[Marxism] Paris Riots- Dozens of Police Cars Torched
calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 2 06:01:09 MST 2005
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 Frances 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
The state prosecutor for Bobigny told the press: Its 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
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 Sarkozys 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 youre going to go for them and send the police
Le Figaros October 31 editorial expressed a certain nervousness in
right-wing circles: Nicolas Sarkozys 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 Frances 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.
French workers demand justice over asbestos poisoning
[26 October 2005]
One-day national strike in France: over a million march against Gaullist
[6 October 2005]
Answer the French government/corporate offensive against workers with
[4 October 2005]
The new MSN Search Toolbar now includes Desktop search!
More information about the Marxism