Violent crime is on the increase in the 20th arrondissement of Belleville, one of the two primarily Chinese communities in the Paris region. The ferocity of the spiraling crime wave, combined with the devaluation of the Euro and Europe's overall economic crisis, is leading the hardworking community to bankruptcy, says local business spokesman Wang Jiaqing, in a Chinese media site originating in France.
The People's Daily also reports that one individual crime proved one crime too many for the besieged Chinese community: the massive Sunday protest was the result of an attack on a Chinese wedding at the Hotel Belleville back on June 1st. A group of "youths" burst in to the hotel's restaurant, barred the doors and tried to rob those attending a marriage ceremony at the hotel. (An alternative account says that the assaults took place outside the building, on the street in front of the party) One of the guests was armed, and he shot and wounded one of the would-be robbers. When police arrived, they made one arrest: the armed guest.
While the French media is well-known for its contorted tapdancing and side-stepping around the demographics of its "french youth" generation of vandals, the protesters stared reality square in the face of French journalism's preferred shadows and fog. One example: Radio France International's interview of a young female Chinese protester on her motives for joining the march:
"There are too many people attacked by Arabs. They steal purses [off you] in the street, they break [shop] windows, we don't feel safe".As if to underscore the whole point of the gathering, a purse snatching actually took place that day, over on the margins of the protest. The thief was seen, caught through the quick initiative of the marchers, who held him until the police came. Once he was handed over to the police, however, they promptly let the thief go!
"We're not violent, but that was too much", said a witness to the escape and the resulting battle that raged for the next two hours between the summoned riot squad and outraged Chinese protesters. As French paper Le Figaro's describes the reaction:
According to eyewitnesses, the incidents were provoked by the theft of a protester's purse. The first time the police came to intervene, they were pelted with projectiles, and they responded with tear gas. After they left, several small groups of protesters assaulted drivers and cyclists, as well as overturning cars in order to block traffic, which in turn caused a new police response.A follow-up account in Le Parisien identifies five arrests at the protest, all Chinese; they are "suspected of having participated in Sunday's violence, during skirmishes that broke out during the protest, between protesters and a dozen youth not part of the protest."
It's in the verbal battleground of the French media's online comments sections that one looks to shed light on any story reporting on the crimes of "french youths". According to a commentor at the aforementioned RFI article:
"I interviewed several protesters, all the ladies said they had been victims of purse snatchings at least once.
As for the refusal of police to arrest the aggressors, this is what they told me: "they were hungry."
... Even when Paris police deign to arrest thieves, they are immediately let go giving them the chance to start all over again. And yet the law provides for 3 years in prison for this type of theft. France is a free country where its thieves have no troubles.
Of course, security is not uniquely a Chinese concern. But it is the Chinese that are the principal victims, because they always have cash on them, compared to the French who only carry bank cards. As well, the police only intervene in Belleville in order to check Chinese ID, never to arrest the thieves. ...
You can follow the repercussions of last Sunday's protest at a (French) Facebook page initially set up to chronicle the the protest itself: Belleville Security For All. It's a gateway to witness' photos and personal accounts of the story, each going into far more detail than any media report ever could, given the shroud of political correctness blanketing France's state-licensed journalism.
[Hastily translated by myself, from the linked French sources; corrections or clarifications welcomed in the comments section.]
The last time we visited Belleville was in a December 2007 post, French Youths Attack Police On Christmas Eve.[Hat tip to Tiberge's detailed report at GalliaWatch]