In 2006, youth riots in France made international headlines, as a shocked world witnessed car-nage on a nightly basis. In 2008, like purse-snatchings and prostitution, France's riots are no longer "news", so the headlines are now few and far between... yet the beatings, the car burnings, the urban violence continue.
My translation of the account carried by Paris newspaper Le Parisien on the latest Night of Violence:
Clashes between youths and police erupted overnight on Saturday in Vitry-le-François (Marne), leaving nine lightly wounded, after the death of a young man from gunshots, whose murderer has been arrested, it was learned Sunday from police.
Over sixty vehicles were burned, as well as garbage containers, during a wave of violence that saw fifty youths opposing police and firefighters, explained Sylvaine Astic, director of the precinct cabinet of La Marne...
Two firefighters, two police officers and five residents, "not implicated in the violence", were lightly wounded.
Several police and firefighting vehicles were also pelted with stones, added Mme Astic.
The clashes started about 10:00 pm, after the death of a young man in his twenties, killed by a gunshot in the neighborhood at the entrance to Vitry-le-François, a city of approx 17,000 people, located some 30 km from Châlons-en-Champagne, according to Mme Astic, which caused very violent reactions".
"Around 10:00 pm, a gunshot was fired in a neighborhood of Vitry-le-François. The young man who was hit, died about a half-hour later, and his death sparked off a reaction from residents, from youths, who then engaged in exactions all through the city", she explained, clarifying that the violent acts ended by the early morning.
The perpetrators of the violence, armed mostly with baseball bats or molotov cocktails, numbered around fifty, and were accompanied by a dozen others who watched the acts without participating in them, she said.
Over sixty police officers were dispatched to the scene during the night and were still there Sunday morning.
The suspected murderer of the young man was arrested "in the middle of the night", she added, without explaining the reasons for the homicide or if other individuals were also arrested.
The newspaper Le Figaro adds details on the rioters' motivation [my translation]:
"Youths who had identified the suspected shooter, set themselves to searching for him", explained Dominique Laurens, district attorney for Châlons-en-Champagne. "
Given the manner in which they were looking for him, we understood very quickly that the suspect would be in difficulty if they found him", she added.
Covenant Zone has been one of the only English-language blogs to follow in detail the waves of urban violence relentlessly percolating in France. Here are some stories we covered from earlier this year that were under-reported (or simply un-reported) in our North American media; these will give a sense of the scope of the nightmare the French are now living with:
- A veritable army of 350 French police officers seal off the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis in order to make arrests of suspected violent youth.
- A force of 100 youthful thugs rampage in the Paris suburb of Courcouronnes
- The battle of Bagatelle, a suburb of the southern city of Toulouse
- It's not just the boys, even the young French girls are getting into the act
- A new generation of thugs is being schooled in violence in France's Kindergarten Horrors.
We have grown so dependant, so attached to the window that television provides us of our world, that if we do not see something on tv, we can have trouble believing that it exists.
Well, France's post-Christian downward spiral is real... even if it no longer being televised.