Generation Identity has repeatedly tried to bar migrants from entering the country, conducting high-profile raids in the Alps and the Pyrenees.
On February 13, Darmanin announced that he had triggered procedures to ban the group in response to a series of anti-migrant actions.
He raised the possibility of dissolving the far-right group in late January when it deployed around 30 activists on the Spanish border, with cars bearing the message “Defend Europe” and the use of drones to police the frontier – the latest in a series of stunts Generation Identity has used to attract the French public’s attention.
A Declaration of War
The organization first grabbed French headlines in 2012 with an online video titled “A declaration of war.” A group of young people who filmed themselves close-up says that they were the generation that had seen an “ethnic divide” and a “bankrupt” experiment in “living together” that included “imposed miscegenation.”
A month later, they engaged in direct action for the first time by occupying a mosque roof under construction in the central French city of Poitiers, using the building to display anti-immigrant banners. Then-president François Hollande’s government considered shutting down Generation Identity in response to this but did not.
The group persisted with shock tactics over the following years – including blocking the road linking the “Calais jungle” migrant camp to the city center in 2016 and having one of its members infiltrate the NGO SOS Méditerranée, which helps migrants in danger of death at sea in 2018.
But Generation Identity’s biggest publicity stunt was when it launched a vast operation in the Alps along the Italian border, an open frontier thanks to the EU’s Schengen agreement – and a major crossing point for migrants. The activists dressed in blue jackets, making them look like police officers and fuelling the impression that they were usurping the French state’s role.
Three members were sentenced to six months in prison for the Alps stunt in August 2019 – specifically for masquerading police officers.
In the decree, Darmanin pronounced the Lyon-based association illegal and said its publications and actions spread “an ideology inciting hatred, violence, and discrimination of individuals, based on their origin, their race or their religion.”
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said: “With that decision, we are putting an end to sometimes violent actions from the group.”
GI has gained notoriety in recent years after staging several operations to block migrants from entering the country. The most recent of which occurred in January, with around 30 GI members congregating at the Col du Portillon mountain pass on the French-Spanish border, the group called a surveillance operation to “defend Europe.”
Fences and Helicopter Missions at Borders
The latest in a string of demonstrations by GI members often involves deploying fences at border crossings.
In August 2019, the group’s leader and two other members were handed six-month prison sentences after setting up a blockade in the French Alps and rented two helicopters to search for migrants.
Members of the far-right group scaled the mountain pass at an altitude of 1,762 meters (5,781 feet) and unveiled a giant banner that said “Closed border: No way” before erecting a symbolic blockade in the snow using plastic fencing.
In response, a separate group of activists escorted some 30 migrants into France, sparking skirmishes with police and GI members.