[Marxism] Paris Riots- Dozens of Police Cars Torched

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 2 06:01:09 MST 2005


La haine.........

<http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/nov2005/pari-n02.shtml>

Paris hit by anti-police riots
By Antoine Lerougetel
2 November 2005


Two boys died on the evening of October 27 while fleeing from the police on 
a suburban council estate that houses poor and immigrant workers. The deaths 
of the boys, in Clichy-sous-Bois in Paris’ northern suburbs, sparked violent 
confrontations between mainly immigrant youth and 400 to 500 riot police 
dispatched by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy.

Running battles between the youth and the police continued through the 
weekend. Some 70 cars and many rubbish bins were incinerated. The police 
fired around 150 rubber and plastic bullets and an unspecified number of 
tear gas canisters, and have continued to maintain a heavy presence.

Sarkozy, the chairman of the ruling Gaullist party and leading contender for 
the candidacy of his party in the 2007 presidential elections, has been 
building his reputation on an aggressive law-and-order platform. He 
immediately pledged to beef up the armoury of officers’ “non-lethal” 
weapons. He also announced that seventeen companies of riot police and seven 
mobile police brigades would be permanently stationed on “difficult” housing 
estates, and that plainclothes officers would be sent in to identify “gang 
leaders, drug dealers and ringleaders.”

The events of Thursday evening on the Chêne-Pointu estate demonstrate the 
intense fear and hostility to the police and representatives of the state 
felt by the inhabitants of France’s suburban council estates. These are 
usually relegated to the periphery of towns and cities.

They contrast with the often impeccably maintained town centres and are 
largely made up of high-rise tower blocks that are lacking in amenities, 
especially for the youth. The unemployment rate on such estates is often 
more than five times the national average of ten percent. Paris is ringed by 
such neighbourhoods, run for the most part by Socialist Party and Communist 
Party town halls and local councils.

At about 5.30 p.m. last Thursday, Bouna, 15, Zyed, 17, and Metin, 21, 
climbed over the three-metre-high, barbed-wire topped wall of an electricity 
plant. Bouna and Zayed were burnt to death and Metin is in hospital being 
treated for severe burns.

A youth told the press: “They were coming back from a football match. They 
had decided to kick a ball around... ” There are slightly different 
versions, but it is clear that the police arrived and the boys ran away from 
them.

The state prosecutor for Bobigny told the press: “It’s all the more tragic 
for the fact that they were not delinquents and they had done nothing 
wrong.” This was a refutation of the initial statements of Sarkozy and Prime 
Minister Dominique deVillepin that the boys had been involved in theft and 
vandalism.

The lawyer representing the victims’ parents, Jean-Pierre Mignard, asked an 
essential question: “Why did young people, who were doing no wrong, feel so 
threatened that they made their way into such a dangerous place?”

The newspaper Le Figaro of October 29 reported: “Many of them (the 
inhabitants of the commune), shocked by the events, yesterday spoke out 
angrily against police behaviour. ‘The cops harass us and play at being 
cowboys, but they are never there when we need them,’ said one.”

Insults, arbitrary arrest, violence by police against youth and anyone who 
looks foreign are so commonplace in France that they are rarely deemed 
worthy of attention by the media. The Le Monde editorial of October 31 
reported that “2004 was marked by an 18.5 percent increase in complaints of 
illegal police violence.” All the police carry firearms and police shootings 
are a persistent feature of French life.

Sarkozy has been making provocative statements against youth from the 
council estates. He has promised to sandblast the “scum” and “gangrene” from 
the estates. He has also pledged to visit a “difficult” area every week.

Prime Minister Villepin and President Jacques Chirac have made no comment 
about Sarkozy’s provocations. In the government, only the junior minister 
for equal opportunity, Azouz Begag, has spoken out against Sarkozy. On 
October 30, he declared: “You must not call the suburban youth ‘scum,’ you 
must not tell them that you’re going to go for them and send the police 
against them.”

Le Figaro’s October 31 editorial expressed a certain nervousness in 
right-wing circles: “Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent statements on the need to 
‘eradicate the gangrene’ in the suburbs and ‘clean up the council estates 
with sandblasters’ are ill-considered in form. But in content?”

Taking their lead from France’s top cop, the police patrolling the 
Clichy-sous-bois estates can be seen on a video, taken with a mobile phone, 
shooting rubber and plastic bullets at very close range and shouting: “Come 
back you bunch of bastards.”

See Also:
French workers demand justice over asbestos poisoning
[26 October 2005]
One-day national strike in France: over a million march against Gaullist 
policies
[6 October 2005]
Answer the French government/corporate offensive against workers with 
socialist internationalism
[4 October 2005]

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