I went to the art museum La Piscine-Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent with some friends. We arrived early, so we walked to wait the opening time. There was a lot of people queuing for the entrance. Then, we saw a control gate right after the main door, and everyone gave bags and metal objects (jewellery, keys…), passed through the gate and entered to the museum.
It was our turn, all my friends went in, I was the last one, with a backpack. The first security guard asked me to put all metal objects on the table. I gave him my keys, my phone and other stuff.
Then, he wanted to see my bag. I put it on the table, and wide-opened the small pocket, then the main one. He could fully see the content of the pockets. But it was apparently not enough, since he wanted to search with hands inside the main pocket (it contained work-related stuff I really need with me).
I politely refused, since this operation cannot be made without the person consent Article L613-2. The security guard seemed surprised of this reaction (it probably doesn’t occur very often). And he began to be nervous, explaining it was the usual procedure.
We live in a State of emergency, do you know what it means ? Now I have the right to act this way.
Once again, I refused, since the law gives me the right to decline. He did not care about what this article says, the State of emergency seemed to give him any rights.
I’m mandated by the Prefecture, I’ve got a badge. So if you don’t want to show me your bag, you go out !
Indeed, the extended rights given to the private security guards are given by the Prefect. I repeated that I widely opened my bag such that he could fully see the content but he didn’t care, so I still refused.
Then, a museum employee asked me to apologize for having refused to obey. Like above, I said it was the law, and it told me :
Usually, people who respect the law doesn’t feel good about themselves, so please proceed !
Security guards came again :
Stay fifteen minutes if you want, I call the police.
My friend and I stayed a few minutes, but he apparently didn’t call the police.
The queue was quite long, and some people began to mumble… I wasn’t at ease, especially because some of my friends were in the other side of the security gate and were waiting me.
Suddenly, the man behind me exclaimed loudly :
I don’t want to take any risk. I don’t want to enter if this man doesn’t want to obey.
I returned but was so surprised to hear such a reaction that I didn’t know what to answer. I was explicitely considered as the real threat and it’s really disturbing.
The two security guards pressed me to go out, and forbid me the museum entrance. One of my friend kindly went with me to the police station. I wanted to ask if it was legal to refuse an entrance simply because I don’t want the security guard put his hands in my bag.
The first policeman kindly asked me to show the content of my bag at the entrance. I widely opened my bag, exactly like in the museum, and he let me enter in a few seconds. A few people were queuing before me, apparently for car thefts. Then, it was my turn to explain my situation to the police officers.
They were truly surprised (but very comprehensive) to hear someone complaining about it. They explained that during the State of emergency, the powers are extremely extended and security guard had the right to refuse me the entrance if I refused him to access my bag.
However they couldn’t help me more since it was not related to a criminal law but to civil law. Nevertheless, they told me I could fill a complaint to the prosecutor who is in charge of this kind of topics.
The next morning, we came to the Museum of Fine Arts of Lille (a really nice museum !). Two security guards were at the entrance. They asked me to have a look in the content of my bag and my vest. I show them, and they let me enter. The procedure lasted a minute, without any problem.
This experience was quite scary, and even if I still feel guilty for having speparated the group in two (two of us still visited the museum while another and I were at the police station), I think it was important to refuse this control. The State of emergency will probably be extended for several months.. It’s not a good news.