Saturday, February 02, 2008

France's "Customary Rebellions"

When does it stop being crime, and start becoming war?

Reports on France's crime statistics for the previous year raise serious concerns over the hardening of attitude seen in the generation of thugs that are attacking French police. Law enforcement officials are being targeted with a fury and a frequency that is starting to take a marked effect on police morale.

A particularly troubling aspect is that the battle doesn't subside once the attackers are caught; now arrests are accompanied by promises of retaliation once the thugs are released, retaliation at a very personal level... "We know where you live", the arresting officers are told by the unrepentant youth in their handcuffs. (I have a translation post "in the works" on what the thugs are doing to off-duty police officers, which I hope to publish soon)

A spokesperson for one of France’s police unions was interviewed recently in the French media, sounding alarm bells that few are prepared to hear... because the answers require sweeping changes that so few are prepared to imagine.

In regards to this glorious balance sheet, one result nevertheless casts a shadow over the 2007 activity report: the flagrant rise in violent acts against agents of public authority. Gérard Bastian is the police sergeant of the Léman BAC [Anti-Criminality Brigade] and is the departmental secretary of the Alliance national police union.

"In 2007, there was a 9% rise of violence against agents of public authority at the departmental level. This represents 115 recorded acts compared to 96 in 2006.... The report is alarming. We can no longer tolerate this. For the last three years, the phenomenon has been growing exponentially. And if it previously only really affected night personnel, today it touches those who work during the day as well.

What do these assaults entail?

"Foremost, there is violent behavior, that occur almost daily and are being committed by simple offenders, which is rather exceptional. And watch out, when we roll up a violent scene, it has to be organized at force 10, because if they were all rolled up, the courts would never empty. Its also verbal threats towards the officials. 'We know where you live, well catch up with you.' There is a form of intimidation that has installed itself."

Physical violence also?

The rebellions are becoming customary. Before, when there was an arrest, the guy went along, today, they dare us to arrest them, by physically opposing us. Its the same thing when theyre brought to jail. Another new phenomenon: the rise of material destruction and the large-scale stonings of police cars. Six or seven vehicles were damaged by stonings in Thonon-les-Bains over the last four months!

What are the solutions for stemming the tide of this phenomenon?

“There must first be an adaptive judicial answer. If they don’t take this problem seriously, we’ll quickly reach another level of violence. We must not play down the situation. For myself, I don’t feel reassured; the violence has grown truly significantly [over] the last three years."
Things look bleak, but there have been periods in French history where society suffered under even worse chaos than at present. There was, for one example, the time when France started to emerge from the shadow of the Hundred Years War:
[In 1422] Henry VI of England was crowned King of France; but as he was not yet a year old, the Duke of Bedford ruled as his regent... He suppressed brigandage by hanging 10,000 bandits in a year; judge therefrom the condition of the land.
Demobilized soldiers -- ecorcheurs (skinners), coquillards (shell men) -- made the highways perilous, and terrorized even large cities like Paris and Dijon. Over Normandy the ravage of war had passed back and forth like an infernal, murderous tide; even in luckier Languedoc a third of the population had disappeared. Peasants fled to the cities, or hid in caves, or fortified themselves in churches, as armies or feudal factions or robber bands approached. Many peasants never returned to their precarious holdings, but lived by beggary or thievery, or died of starvation or plague. Churches, farms, whole towns, were abandoned and left to decay. In Paris in 1422 there were 24,000 empty houses, 80,000 beggars, in a population of some 300,000. People ate the flesh and entrails of dogs. The cries of hungry children haunted the streets.
___Will Durant, The Reformation, chapt III, "France Besieged", pgs 70-71
As France’s economic foundations are besieged by a new generation of brigands, there is increasingly evidence of a slow-but-sure shift in the hearts and minds of victimized citizens, no longer viewing the veritable army of vandals as the victims but as the predatory force they reveal themselves to be. The leftist pretension that unemployment is at the root of a teenager’s decision to set a police car ablaze, is melting under the flames of the Molotov cocktails the teenager is raining on everyone’s heads.

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