The neighborhood of Ozanam in the city of Carcassonne is on the brink. Daily crimes and intimidations have taken their toll on the residents. A local paper La Dépêche reports:
"We have had enough." With these words begins a long letter dated July 30 to the president of the French Republic, the minister of the Interior, the Prefect, the Police Chief, and to the managers of the housing project of the Ozanam neighborhood… This letter, signed by the president of the association of "homeowners of Ozanam" had one aim: to bring the police and the public authorities back into the neighborhood.
The letter paints a portrait of daily life in Ozanam: "verbal attacks and insulting gestures, violation of private property, burglaries, thefts of objects inside of cars, car chases, cars, motor bikes, motorcycles day and night; trafficking of all kinds"… naturally the members of the association say they have had "enough of living like that on a daily basis."
"We inform the police regularly and they are completely aware…The cars that race by speed well beyond the limit of 30km/hr. What if an accident happens? What will happen if a car swerves and lands in a garden?" ask the residents.
In the end, their demands are simple: they want the police back in the neighborhood, especially during "sensitive" hours from 5:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. And they want the city to erect speed humps ("ralentisseurs") on the main thoroughfare… "We want to live in peace like all the citizens of this region do," say the residents.
This letter was written two days after two police officers on a motorcycle were attacked, and the day before a police raid… It was also sent just at the moment when residents' associations in other parts of the city sounded a cry of alarm. This was the case notably in Castors and Fabre d'Eglantine where events identical to those in Ozanam were denounced. Due to the fact that most police authorities were on vacation, there was no official follow-up to these demands.
Some questions need to be answered. The Ozanam project is the core of the urban renewal program, and the blocks of apartments are giving way little by little to small single homes ("pavillons"). This change was supposed to appease the tension in the neighborhoods. If that was the case in la Conte, it seems that in Ozanam the result is less convincing.
Tensions are rising in Ozanam. For the second time in four years, the residents, via their association, have alerted the authorities about a situation that is deteriorating dangerously...
Below, the homeowners' association of Ozanam, from another article at l'Indépendant.
According to this article, the residents feel they have been abandoned by everybody:
"We told management that it was scandalous that nothing had been done in our homes for forty years, but no one answered. We wrote again to the prefect, but he didn't answer. We sent a petition to Sarkozy but he didn't answer. We're starting over with Hollande. But we feel we've been abandoned by everybody."
Another resident recalled: "They promised us a pleasant neighborhood to live in and a mixed population, but the truth is that it gets worse and worse."
Note: It sounds as if these residents went to live in Ozanam on the understanding that it was a pleasant place to live. Did they precede or follow the construction of the subsidized housing project? The article doesn't say clearly, but we get the impression they were misled, and now they are stuck in a neighborhood that not only has blocks of subsidized housing, but where some of the welfare recipients are moving (at whose expense?) into the small detached homes.
The city of Carcassonne tends to be politically conservative and gave Jean-Marie Le Pen a victory in the first round of the 2002 presidential, but voted overwhelmingly for Jacques Chirac in the second. It also gave Jean-Marie Le Pen 13.33% of the votes in the first round of the 2007 presidential, then elected Nicolas Sarkozy in the second. Despite this trend, the current mayor of Carcassonne is a Socialist - Jean-Claude Perez.
At the top, the coat of arms of Carcassonne, a city classified as a world treasure.
Labels: Carcassonne, National Identity, Resistance, Urban Violence