The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed our lives in the past year. Among the numerous measures, governments and health experts demand the use of face masks as one of the best strategies against the spread of the virus.
However, numerous people do not wear them, claiming they are ineffective and highly uncomfortable. An argument about face masks in France led to the death of a bus driver.
After five days in the hospital, following the assault in Bayonne, southwest France, Philippe Monguillot, 59, died on 10 July.
His daughter Marie, 18, explained that the family and doctors decided to ‘let him go’.
The passengers boarded without tickets at about 7:00 pm. As these masks are mandatory on public transport in France, Mr. Monguillot had asked three passengers to wear them and asked another one to show him the ticket.
Then, he was dragged off the bus and assaulted, violently beaten and kicked in the head. Two men in their twenties have been charged with attempted murder after his death, and two others have been charged with not assisting a person in danger.
A fifth man faces a charge of attempting to hide a suspect. The ones charged with attempted murder were previously known to the police.
The murder saddened the entire country, and thousands of people gathered in his home town to honor him. Dressed in white clothing, they marched in memory of him, led by his wife Veronique.
Jean-Rene Etchegaray, the city’s mayor, described the attack as ‘barbaric’.
“Philippe Monguillot has left us. He succumbs to barbaric aggression in the exercise of his profession.
A faithful servant of the public service, he leaves the image of a generous man. Support for colleagues in grief. Our affection for his grieving wife and family.”
Also, the French prime minister said that a ‘cowardly assault’ caused the death of this man while he was trying to do his job, so the incident ‘touches us in the heart’.
The entire country condemns the crime and calls for punishments for the perpetrators.
Le décès de Philippe Monguillot, lâchement agressé dimanche à Bayonne pour avoir accompli son travail, nous touche en plein cœur. La République reconnaît en lui un citoyen exemplaire et ne l’oubliera pas. La Justice punira les auteurs de ce crime abject.
— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) July 10, 2020
The European Transport Workers’ Federation posted on Twitter:
“We express our support and solidarity with Philippe Monguillot’s family, friends, and colleagues.
We condemn this barbaric and senseless act, and once again, we demand the swift implementation measures to protect workers from such attacks!”
The colleagues of the driver used their right to refuse to work in the aftermath of the attack. They will resume work on Monday, but only with a security agent aboard the long buses called Trambus.
Veronique said that the attack “destroyed” her and their three daughters.
“We must bang a fist on the table, so this never happens again. It’s barbaric, not normal. We must stop this massacre.”