There are some criminals who express the public opinion. Some people whose convictions changed history. Jean – Jacque Liabeuf was one of them, and he may have been a hero. not a killer.
Jean – Jacque Liabeuf was born on January 11, 1886, in France, and he was raised to become an anarchist who wanted to fight French officials’ corruption. Being a young man living in St. Etienne, he lost his first job as a shoemaker due to his revolutionary views and his participation in the antiauthoritarian movement who wanted to fight poverty. Having no money, he stole to feed himself and got arrested. Liabeuf’s release did not feel like freedom at all since no one wanted to hire or consort with a thief. He moved to Paris.
Instead of finding a job, Jean – Jacque Liabeuf got in touch with the Parisian underworld turning into a “heavy” anarchist fighting for people’s freedom. His greatest ambition was to take all the girls working as prostitutes out of the streets and help them intergrade into broader society. As an activist, he had already been bothering police authorities, who, at that time, used to earn quite some money from the prostitution they used to control, acting like patrons for the girls. In 1909, two police officers arrested Jean – Jacque Liabeuf, at an alley where he was talking a girl into leaving streets. Those police officers died six months later.
On August 14, 1909, Liabeuf got sentenced to three months in prison for prostitution. Exactly, the man who had been trying to save all those girls was behind bars as a convicted criminal. That was enough and Jean – Jacque knew that this was a game that would end with a bloodbath. During those three months, Liabeuf was planning his revenge because he felt humiliated by those who wanted to get him out of their way and carry on taking advantage of the girls on the streets. French police’s corruption was driving him crazy, and all he could think about was his reputation’s restoration and revenge.
After his release, he started working day and night saving money to buy a gun, and he created two wristbands and two armbands out of leather and spikes. On January 8, 1910, Jean – Jacque Liabeuf put on his cape, wore his weapons, and carried his beloved revolver with him only to meet the two policemen who had put him in this position. And he did.
Liabeuf knew that the two officials would meet at a filthy motel to talk about business with their girls. When they showed up, he attacked them killing the first one with eight stabs, and the second one using his gun, but some police officers who happened to be working close to the area got involved and started hitting Liabeuf to stop him. The fight ended with two dead and six heavily injured police officers. Jean – Jacque Liabeuf was behind bars, again.
Assaulting a police officer -let alone eight- is never acceptable in any country, and someone may think that the French public opinion would have turned against Liabeuf. That someone is wrong because everyone was in favor of Jean – Jacque who, suddenly, was the hero who tried to make things right and fight corruption. The media also played an important part in Liabeuf’s defense and no matter how hard they tried, on May 7, 1910, he got convicted to death, causing a huge wave of protests. Those protests were just the beginning.
Public executions had just been banned in France, and only journalists were allowed to watch them. Some of Liabeuf’s comrades planned to show up as reporters to set him free, but French authorities had been prepared for the unexpected and found out the truth. On July 1, 1910, Jean – Jacque Liabeuf was dead, and people outside the prison were fighting for his freedom. The protests ended with 250 both dead and injured French citizens and a police officer beat to death.
Unfortunately, Jean – Jacque Liabeuf has not been identified as one of the Fathers of the French Resistance, even though his actions had an impact to the way French people objected to police authorities’ corruption. However, a simple Google search proves that he is practically a John Doe. Or should I say, a Jean Doe.