Bagnolet woke up with a strange hangover on Thursday, June 29. The night was short, punctuated by countless mortar fireworks. Place Nelson-Mandela, on the terraces of the cafes, the lines are drawn, the faces are serious.
Rue Malmaison, adjoining, has just been cordoned off; police vehicles block access, even to pedestrians: the premises of the Lilas police station are set on fire around 2 o’clock in the morning. Showcases broken, the storefront is demolished; the hearth inside was reduced to ashes.
Dispatched to the scene of the disaster, the scientific police carried out investigations, photographed the damage under the eye of local elected officials and residents who marched past, incredulous. On the metal facade of the building, streaks of soot testify to the rise of the flames to the first floor. “Fortunately, the firefighters arrived very quickly, but as soon as I saw that the fire was taking I alerted the neighbors, we all got out”, testifies a resident still in shock. His companion tried to snatch a piece of furniture that was spreading the fire from the burning premises.
His burns took him to the emergency room. Sheepishly, he shows his bandaged hands, wondering if it will continue, if it will not be necessary “call for the army”. » There is no more authority, no more landmarks, no more limits, there is only violence. » his companion whispers. Very close to her, a young woman unfolds for a friend the thread of the events that led to this night of revolt.
She returns to the circumstances of the murder of the young Nahel, in Nanterre. “There is no justification for shooting a child at close range! » she decides. On the square, police in bulletproof vests come and go, a little haggard.
One of them says he doesn’t understand: “In Bagnolet, it’s generally calm. There, it is in relation to what happened in Nanterre. »
In his eyes, the video of the events in no way overwhelms the policeman who shot the teenager: “It doesn’t prove anything. We must let the investigation and justice take place. If the colleague fired because he felt in danger, it will be up to him to explain himself. »
Among the arsonists, young people frequently face police humiliation, facial checks
Came to see the damage, the member of the constituency, Alexis Corbière, is not at all of this opinion. “If things had not been filmed, the first version given by the police would undoubtedly have prevailed, he screams. We must hear this desire for justice, for truth in the work of the police. »
For him, this outburst of anger was predictable: “The prevailing feeling is that things are not going well when an arrest concerns a young Frenchman with an immigrant background. This kind of drama reinforces this feeling of relegation to territories where life continues to deteriorate. »
Two people were arrested in the town, including a 15-year-old boy – a sign of the very young profile of the rebels, who identify with Nahel. Among these arsonists, castaways from public school, children of these essential workers whose salary is no longer enough to support their families decently, young people frequently confronted with police humiliation, racial profiling.
If the most spectacular damage affected the city center, they did not spare the plateau, which concentrates working-class cities surrounded by new private housing buildings that have risen from the ground in tight rows in recent years. The burning smell is still in the air. On the avenue de Stalingrad, the carcass of a charred car, half overturned, cuts through the brand new cycle path.
In the middle of the road, the remnants of two garbage lights impede traffic. The Franprix, targeted overnight, still receives its deliveries behind cracked windows.
Further, in Romainville, the ballet of cleaning vehicles struggles to erase, on the asphalt, the traces of the fires of the day before. Everywhere on the avenue de la République which leads to the place Carnot, where a new metro station is under construction, the green and yellow plastic of the melted garbage cans is embedded in the roadway.
The “disarray” of local elected officials deprived of resources by the State
At the edge of the wooded park, the town hall hides its broken glass doors behind plywood. At the bottom of the coast of the Virgin, in Noisy-le-Sec, public facilities, municipal infrastructure were spared, to the great relief of the communist mayor, Olivier Sarrabeyrouse, who called Thursday evening for a rally in front of the town hall. “First to affirm our solidarity with the family of Nahel, the population and SamaGameted officials of Nanterre, because he a tragedy could have happened in our city,” he explains .
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In this rapidly changing territory, where preparations for the Olympics are accelerating gentrification, the city councilor reports a “widening gap”of “feeling of exclusion of the inhabitants” And “disarray” local elected representatives, deprived by the State of means to provide responses to social difficulties and to sustain public services.
“Beyond police violence, this crisis is a reflection of extreme tensions. We feel the pressure rising for months, he warns.We are on the front line and our only response is contempt for the state. Here, the desire for metropolitanization, for densification, has been deployed to the detriment of the inhabitants. » In these circumstances, he sees only an alternative to social chaos“We must put the population and young people back at the heart of decisions. »
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