It’s not getting any better fast… For the seventh night in a row, the Seine-Saint-Denis has been set ablaze by rioters and although violence seemed to have abated after 4 nights, the last two have been tension-filled and certainly have kept the police, CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité) and firemen busy.
Thursday 27 October
It all begun in Clichy-sous-bois where violence started after firemen were called to rescue 3 young men who had taken refuge in an electricity sub-station. Locals claimed they were being chased by the police after the 3 (along with 3 others who were arrested and subsequently released) attempted to break into a construction site. The air inside the 9 sqm substation was filled with electricity and as 2 of the boys entered deeper into the building, they were electrocuted and killed. The third victim is currently in hospital and has not mentioned being chased by the police and admitted being aware of the dangers of climbing over the double protection walls of the substation. Damages: 15 cars burnt.
Friday 28 October
In the Chêne-Pointu area of Clichy, 400 young men face 250 to 300 policemen. A bullet is shot towards a police van but does not injure anyone. Damages: 7 policemen are slightly injured, 30 cars and 10 bins are burnt, 13 youngster including 1 minor spent the night at the local police station.
Saturday 29 October
Morning: 500 people (friends, families, neighbours, members of the local council) take part in a silent march in Clichy to ay their respects to the 2 dead teenagers. On the front line, 15 people wearing white T-shirts bearing the name of the victims and the words: “Morts pour rien” (died for nothing).
The night is relatively quiet, firemen only report 17 cars and bins fires, there is no violence on the streets.
Sunday 30 October
In a “news at 8” (for further details on the importance of the news at 8pm in France, see previous post here), Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on TF1 advocates “zero tolerance” towards urban violence. While re-iterating that the 2 victims were not pursued by police, he announces that he has requested 17 CRS companies (the riot police) and 7 mobile police squadrons to backup the local police in Clichy-sous-bois. On the 2nd biggest TV channel (France 2), aforementioned Sarkozy comes under criticism from his own government as Azouz Begag, Minister for the promotion of equality of chances says that “people should not be told they are scum”. Sarkozy had been heard uttering the word “scum” 5 days before in Argenteuil.
A fourth night of violence follows in the quartier de la Forestière this time. A tear gas grenade is thrown inside the local mosque. Funnily enough, it is the same type the CRS uses. They deny throwing it, 6 policemen are slightly injured, 11 people send the night at the station.
Monday 31 October
Sarkozy is at it again. Although he admits that that tear gas grenade thrown the previous night was of standard CRS issue, “it doesn’t not mean that it was thrown by a policeman”. In the meantime, Siyakah Traore, one of the victims’ brother refuses to meet with Sarkozy under any circumstances as he is incompetent. They want to go straight to the Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.
Police arrest 12 people in Clichy where cars and bins continue to burn. According to the police, the night is quieter than the previous one although rioters in Clichy seemed to have set an example and riots spread to Sevran, Neuilly-sur-Marne et Bondy.
Tuesday 1 November
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin meets the victims families and assures them that light will be thrown on the circumstances of the accident. He highlights the necessity to return to calm.
Violence spread to 3 other departements: Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines and Val-d'Oise. However, there does not seem to be any direct confrontation between rioters and police officers.
Wedenesday 2 November
Jacques Chirac calls for a return to calm and respect of the law. Azouz Begag in an interview with newspaper Sud-Ouest regrets never being consulted by Sarkozy on equality of chances issues. He says that he is “being told when Sarkozy makes an announcement but never consulted. I am united with my government colleagues. Nicolas Sarkozy is just 1 minister out of 31”.
Violences and arrests (15) continue in Seine-Saint-Denis. During the afternoon, a section of the Bobigny 2 shopping centre is vandalised by about 40 people. During the night, a police station (closed a night for security reasons) is set on fire and in La Courneuve, CRS avoid 4 bullets. Several fires are reported in Seine-et-Marne and Hauts-de-Seine. 177 cars are burnt and in Aulnay-sous-bois, 3 France 2 journalists are forced to abandon their car as tens of teenagers wearing balaclavas threaten them according to AFP. A few moments later, their car is on fire as are the nearby car dealership and local primary school. Violences are now reported in Bobigny, Bondy, Aulnay, le Bourget, Noisy-le-Sec, Villepinte, la Courneuve, Clichy, Sevran, Antony, Villeparisis, Mantes-la-Jolie. In Clichy-sous-bois however, things seemed to have calmed down.
Categories: France; News; Paris riots