Grenoble - Three Nights of Violence
It was another wild weekend in France, this time with Grenoble as the center of attention. Eruptions of violence occurred following the shooting by the police, who were acting in self defense, of a repeat offender named Karim Boudouda, age 27. Boudouda and an accomplice led the police on a wild chase after they robbed the casino at Uriage-les-Bains, near Grenoble. However, the rioting was set off when an imam recited a prayer for the dead man before fifty young people who had gathered in a park.
There are countless websites that have this story, with more or less the same facts. However, one reader points out that Le Figaro toned down its original article.
The following is based primarily on the report in Le Point. The language used in the article is cautious, to the point of being tediously unenlightening:
Demonstrators and police exchanged gunshots, cars and businesses burned: violent incidents erupted during the night of July 16-17, in Grenoble, after the death, the night before, of an armed robber who was killed in a confrontation with the police. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux arrived Saturday afternoon in La Villeneuve, the working class neighborhood in Grenoble that was shaken by the violence.
At around 2:30 a.m. a man demonstrating along with about forty others took out a hand gun and shot at the riot police who had been mobilized during the night in La Villeneuve, where the robber resided. The police opened fire to disperse the crowd and "ensure their safety". Between 50 and 60 cars were burnt, and two youths, ages 17 and 18, were arrested during the night. In addition, "construction equipment" and two businesses were also burnt.
It was after an imam recited a prayer for the dead man, before a group of fifty youths who had gathered in a park, that the situation degenerated. Small groups of vandals using baseball bats smashed bus stops and a trolley car, tear gas bombs were thrown, and several fires, notably in a garage, a technical center and a gym were reported by AFP.
The victim, Karim Boudouda, 27, had already been convicted three times for armed robbery. He was killed in a police chase when he fled after robbing the casino of Uriage-les-Bains, near Grenoble. With his accomplice - still at large - he held the casino employee at gunpoint and demanded the contents of the cash register. The police chase ended in La Villeneuve. "The criminals stopped their car. They opened fire at least three times on the officers," declared the D.A. of Grenoble, Jean Philippe. "The police of the anti-crime brigade (BAC) then responded," hitting Karim Boudouda in the head, Jean Philippe added, citing "self defense", a version denied by the youths of La Villeneuve, who are crying hatred and vengeance towards the police. The police recovered "a portion", possibly "the totality of the loot", between 20,000 and 40,000 euros, in a sack in the back of the criminals' car.
As I said, the French reports are not terribly interesting. Read instead an article posted by a British blogger named Durotrigan, who was kind enough to send me this link to his website.
Here is an excerpt from his article, in which he is critical of the Telegraph's politically correct reporting:
The Telegraph avoids mentioning the faith background of the perpetrators and their ethnicity, but the people conducting this violence, as everyone knows, are not French ‘youths’: they are Muslim immigrants or those descended from the Muslim immigrant population. It is probable that this outburst of violence in Grenoble was also a sign of discontent connected to the National Assembly’s decision this week to ban various types of Islamic veils such as the burqa and niqab, but we won’t see mainstream media outlets joining the dots to reveal an all-too apparent and obvious picture of seething Islamist resentment in France.
Prior to Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as President, many amongst the French electorate had been given the impression that he would deal with such rioters in a suitably condign fashion, having referred to those who participated in the 2005 riots as “canailles” and “racailles”, but he has not. Moreover, he has shown considerable accommodation towards Islam, which is not something that ordinary French voters would desire, particularly those who have the misfortune to live cheek by jowl with Muslim populations. (...)
If you read Durotrigan's home page you will find much of interest, including a summary of the French National Assembly's decision to ban the burqa.
The most striking comments of all, come from the rioters who unleashed the violence on the night of July 16-17. They are quoted at François Desouche who uses LCI.TF1 as the source:
"It's Beirut. I swear, it's Beirut!" exclaimed a resident of La Villeneuve as screeching sirens of police cars whizzed by. Above the buildings, in the nocturnal sky, a helicopter of the gendarmerie passed, equipped with projectors and an infrared light to film the crowds. Riot police attempted to encircle small groups of youths who kept getting away, running around and smashing everything in their path. About fifteen of them, some with their faces masked by white T-shirts, smashed bus stops with baseball bats. A policeman deployed in La Villeneuve confirmed that hatred of the police had been expressed by several neighborhood youths:
"The youths told me: You killed one of ours. At any rate, you are a dirty race, we will kill you too. We will shoot at everything that is European."
The residents of all ages came out into the street to watch the scenes of violence, and to express their anger. As the riot police passed by, an older woman cried out: "Go back home!" A young woman in a blue djellaba, who came out into the street late at night while the police were shooting rubber bullets into the air to disperse the crowds accused: "Cops! When you need them, they are never there, zero. And when you don't need them, they come. All of this is because of them." A woman in her thirties, wearing the full veil, who came out to see if her car was burning, added: "All the mothers came and saw the body on the ground. What does all of this mean? The children are shocked. Cops are dogs." A group of people in their sixties lamented: "Young people are acting crazy. They have nothing in their heads. There must not be another death. All of this serves no purpose."
The rest of the article deals with the refusal of the residents to accept the death of this "child of the neighborhood" as being the result of self defense on the part of the police. "They let him die on the ground. They left his body on the street instead of taking him away." "Blood was coming out of his head. He wasn't wearing a helmet. Surely the cops removed it."
The article concludes with a discussion of the increased violence in the region, and the 20% reduction in the number of police as the number of homicides increased. Police unions, concerned because heavily armed criminals no longer hesitate to shoot at police, cite the killing of a policeman in Villiers-sur-Marne last May 20.
There are now reports of a second night of "unrest" in Grenoble. Again, Le Point reports:
Police deployed in the district of Grenoble that was the scene of urban violence on July 16-17 were shot at again during the night of July 17-18. Four suspected gunmen were arrested. (...)
In all, twenty persons have been arrested since the violence began on Friday: besides the four suspects, eleven persons were arrested Saturday night, some of them in possession of knives. Five others had been arrested on Friday night. (...) July 17-18 is nonetheless considered to have been much calmer than the night before, with fifteen cars burnt, compared to sixty the previous night.
Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux paid a visit on Saturday to Grenoble saying he was determined to restore order "by all possible means". An important number of police (more than 300 from two units of the CRS riot police) will be on duty until Wednesday morning. (...) These forces had been engaged on Saturday night after the police were shot at near a shopping center, but the gunman managed to get away. (...)
Saliya Boudouda, the mother of the casino robber killed during a police chase on the night of July 15-16, called for "calm" on Sunday. And she announced her intention to file a suit in order to clarify the circumstances of the death of her son, a three-time offender. "The cops acted crazy. I'm going to see the D.A. and file a suit." So far, the IGPN (General Inspection of the National Police) has determined that the officers who killed Karim Boudouda acted in self defense, since he opened fire on them after a chase.
Besides the links above, there are videos at Bivouac-Id.