Monday, July 07, 2008

Youth Rampaging Aboard Belgian Busses

It's an express trip to Bedlam aboard the Belgian busses these days, as each week the news contain stories of small bands of out-of-control youth raging without any sense of self-restraint, or seemingly any thought for tomorrow. Last week saw a terrifying rampage of feral youths demolishing a passenger-filled bus, with hammers [my loose translation, for this and the rest of the newspaper reports following]:

An articulated bus was targeted Tuesday [July 1st] night around 7:30 pm in Liege by 20 youths who broke the windows with hammer blows. The arrival of police made the attackers flee, but three minors were arrested.
About 70 people -- including many children -- were aboard the bus. At a stop on Moulin street, in Bressoux, the youths, aged 14 to 17 years, demolished the windows with hammers, also vandalized the seats and caused other damages. No one was wounded. ...
Other incidents have taken place on this bus a few weeks ago. These also resulted in serious damages. Following those incidents, some busses had to be escorted by police.

A French-language video report of the riot, showing the scope of the damage, can be seen here.

An update the following day attests to the consequences for such actions:

The two arrested youths, Omar, 15 years old, and Nasser, 17, were both known to police. ... Omar, who had already undergone 30 hours of community service back on June 20th, is to be placed in a detention center. If there's no room then Omar will be placed on a waiting list and, as soon as an opening presents itself, will be placed in that institution. Nasser was charged with 30 hours of community service work.

Crime doesn't pay!

From within the readers comments on these ongoing bus battles, "Robert Antoine" observes a contrast of attitudes, comparing where the youths have come from to their current home in Belgium...:
A few years ago I was in Tangiers, visiting a friend from work who had returned to his country to open up a restaurant. He took me to visit Tangiers, there the police are respected, many of them aren't even armed, I saw youth who were showing themselves too insistent towards some tourists, ONE LOOK from police and HOP, they all leave. Why? Because over there, there are punishments, not "holidays" like in Belgogaucho! My friend told me, this isn't Belgium, they know what they're risking...

I wonder if this is how they handle such things down in Morocco; several Belgian bus routes are to be cancelled until further notice, because it is just not safe to ride those routes any more:

After Saturday's devastation of a bus on route 69 from Soumagne, the unions forming a common front and the directorship of the TEC Liège-Verviers [Belgian transit commission for the Liège to Verviers region] have decided, in common accord, to provisionally reroute bus lines 68, 69 and 268 as of the third of July, therefore avoiding the [express/non-stop route through Wégimont? Not sure of the sense of the text here... "la desserte de Wégimont"].

This had been the fourth bus vandalized coming from the region. In a meeting between the TEC and the police, it was decided to no longer provide service to Wégimont from Liège. ... "We regret severing these lines because many people will be inconvenienced by that, but we are at the end [of our rope]", said a union spokesman.


Findalis said...

Why didn't it surprise me that the "youths" were Muslims? If they don't start cracking down on these goons, the goons will control the nation. Or maybe they already do.

Anonymous said...

Damn, where's Batman when you need him?

zazie said...

Charles Henry,

When you have public transport to and from a town, you say that this town is "desservie" by this public...."service" (train, bus...)
It seems that Belgium is in a worse state than France ; I did not think it was possible...
As for the enforcement of law in Moroco, some immigrants had already told me so, when I asked them if I would be allowed to do there what they are doing here.

Rachel Davis said...

What is up with this, are they depraved on accounta' 'dere deprived? (To quote that bastion of wisdom, West Side Story)
You know there might be more to that than just flippancy, in West Side Story, those song lyrics are from "Dear Officer Krupke" a song the diliquents sing to a policeman about how it's not their fault they are going bad. As they sing to him they are pushing the bounderies, obviously aching for some retribution. This could be the case with Omar and his buddy, back in the old country they would have an outside force ready and willing to give them the retribution they are used to, perhaps in their new country, the lack of heavy authority has the effect of making them do more and more senseless acts in order to seek out that retribution they internally and culturally crave.
As a dog trainer, I can tell you that dogs need a strong leader, someone obviously in control, and if
there is none to be had, they feel that they are the ones who will need to take up the slack and be strong themselves, this usually manifests itself inappropriately, in excessive barking and unnecessarily aggressive behavior. I'm sure they would do the bus smashing thing too, but they don't have opposable thumbs. I could see how if you came from a culture where you are used to the constant threat of......whatever for breaking a multitude of strictures, you would be wondering where the new lines are, and trying to find them, because it's part of your understanding of the world that the common ropes of culture are right up against the skin.

Eowyn said...

Hmm. Let's compare this violent youth activity with that gun-totin', shoot-'em-up, violence-ridden Yew-Natted States.

According to Bureau of Justice statistics, there were about "6 million violent victimizations." (

(Bear in mind our population is 300 million.)

Of these, 373,000 were determined to be committed by gang members. "Youths," if if you will. So we're talking about a tiny fraction.

Now. Not sure how to go about finding similar statistics for France and Belgium, but I do know both their populations are way below ours, and yet these incidences happen way more often. It's as if Wilkes-Barre (to name a mid-sized town here in my home state) had nightly riots. Which it doesn't.

So who's got better control over whose criminals?

Findalis said...

The majority of gang crime in the US is committed by a minority of people. The actual figures for gang membership is quite small compared to the number of people in the US.

Not all minority youths join gangs, the majority don't. But a small number do and commit crimes.

And the US's most violent gang is made up of illegal immigrants. Deportation would do wonders to destroy this gang.