French police attacked by “urban guerrillas”

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French police searching a suspected rioter

There are riots in Paris – last night, over 70 policemen were injured, in the second night of violence in the Parisian suburbs. And police spokesman Patrice Ribeiro claimed that the youths they were facing are “urban guerrillas”! They were armed with a variety of weapons including firearms, and shot at policemen and reporters.

The riots were prompted by the death of two teenagers in a motorcycle accident involving a police car on Sunday in Villiers-le-Bel, an area dominated by public housing blocks.  Angry residents said the police left the scene of Sunday’s crash without helping the two teenagers whose moped had collided with their car.

Police officials said the moped ignored traffic rules and crashed into the police car, and that the bike was unregistered and not road legal. Neither of the riders – aged 15 and 16 – was wearing a helmet, and the prosecutor’s office said the bike was going at top speed.  But this announcement has done nothing to calm feelings in the suburbs – it’s as if the police are saying that it’s okay to kill illegal drivers.

Omar Sehhouli, whose brother was one of the victims, told France Info radio: “This is a failure to assist a person in danger. It is one hundred percent a police blunder. They know it, and that’s why they did not stay at the scene.”  Sehhouli has also said that the rioting “is not violence but an expression of rage”.

The police have started an investigation into the crash.  They say that none of the officers involved had been drinking, and that it seems they were not responsible for the accident.  But the angry youths of Villiers-le-bel think that the police are just covering their backs. And they are incensed by the suggestion that the crash victims were responsible for their own deaths.

If the police want the rioting to stop, they will have to accept responsibility for what they’ve done.  And they need to lose the superior attitude with which they treat the inhabitants of the suburbs.

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