Just Above Sunset
November 6, 2005 - All Quiet in Paris

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Some additional observations from Our Man in Paris, Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. Here, a report the situation on the ground there, just after midnight, Saturday morning.

All Quiet in Paris

PARIS, Saturday, November 5 -

I'm tired of 'fair and balanced.' It's 12:30 at night and I've just been out for a little tour, to the tabac and back. Now the roller rando is passing beneath my window.

It's gotten cooler but it's Friday night and there were four high-heeled honeys in jeans looking for a taxi to take them to the club, and groups of other couples after dinner looking for a café, plus the usual folks sleeping rough on the avenue under the brown lights. Three blocks from the big police station, I passed a big crowd outside the Zango, wreathed in clouds of pot fumes. If you stay in, you can forget that all sorts of people are out at night, all the time. In half a hour I saw no patrolling police, heard no sirens, saw no law at all, and no fires.

The loudest noise came from a party with all the windows open, above the horse butcher on Daguerre. The people out in the suburbs, the other thing they're complaining about, is all the police, fire and ambulance sirens, all night and every night. They think they are being blitzed.

I am not the only one who attributes the riots to Sarkozy's provocation. It was this that led to the kids getting electrocuted. They didn't want the hassle of showing their IDs to the police, knowing they'd probably get bounced around a bit. The police are unpredictable. They must have been scared though, to go over that wall with the barbed-wire on top. If they didn't see the danger signs they knew they were there.

What there was, after the first night of battles with the police in Clichy-sous-Bois, was nothing. The president was mum. The prime minister said nothing. Sarkozy was still muttering threats, but he's always got something to say.

Then the following night there's more riot. The Imams are trying to cool tempers, the 'big brothers' are out trying to channel the kids away from the cops, but they cops are there, dressed and equipped for street battles. With their shields, helmets, batons, tear-gas and flash-balls.

Meanwhile some politicians, mainly members of Sarkozy's own UMP, are wondering if he's flipped out. They should because on Sunday night he's on TV-news saying his 'zero tolerance' mantra-cum-slogan. The riot rages anew, beginning ever earlier.

Basically, here in Paris, it seemed like the government was somewhere else. Nobody said anything of any consequence. On Tuesday the prime minister's planned visit to Canada was still on.

Then he canceled it, and on Thursday Le Parisien's headline says, '10 Reasons for Hope.' There's a 'hip-hoptimiste,' the big brothers, the ghetto guys who've done good, plans for houses instead of the towers, return of businesses, and other dreams. The following page has the previous night's score including buses added to the 40 cars cooked up, and attacks on firemen.

From last night it's total situation of 'fed-up.' From Wednesday to Thursday 315 cars are fried, the RER is attacked, schools are burnt, despite a thousand police on the spot. The prime minister begins saying that the République isn't going to give in.

The prosecutor in Bobigny closed the investigation into the deaths of the two electrocuted kids, but a criminal proceeding by an investigating judge is launched against 'X' for manslaughter. The kids' parents reportedly refuse to meet Sarkozy.

The right-wing begins its theories of 'civil wars' and continues its arguments against voting for foreigners - which, curiously, has only been recently proposed by Sarkozy. 'The only solution to avoid ethnic war is stop immigration,' they say, no different from the Front National.

When the riots spread to suburbs controlled by the Communists they speak out, but usually to blame the government for years of inaction. The Socialists are silent, supposedly solely concerned with their coming congress at Le Mans.

I made a mistake last night saying that radio FIP had zero news. Actually, there is no news on FIP at night, but it doesn't mean any other station is out there covering the latest actions in the battle, which is not quite a civil war.



Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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