Julien Bachard has issued an ultimatum to his constituents: the reconstruction of the buildings destroyed during the riots will only begin when the town hall has the names of those responsible. In this city in the north of the Paris region, the initiative is debated.

“I cried watching them burn it. » Of the Camille-Claudel cultural center, in Saint-Gratien, in the Val-d’Oise, there is not much left. Amina, stroller in hand, walks along the building which until recently welcomed the inhabitants of the district. This 58-year-old childminder lives in the neighboring building and, on the night of June 29 to 30, she saw this living space go up in smoke, set on fire by a group of people.This act of vandalismis part of the conflagration of many working-class neighborhoods after the death of young Nahel, killed by a police officer on June 27 in Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine). “I was yelling at them to stop from my window. I called the fire department, who told me they were overwhelmed. When they arrived, it had already burned down”Amina said.

Around the cultural center, buildings of about twenty floors rise as far as the eye can see. It is the setting of Raguenets, a priority district of Saint-Gratien, a town of around 21,000 inhabitants located in the south of the department. The atmosphere in the Camille-Claudel center district is generally rather peaceful. But, at the end of June, businesses were also attacked there and a playground degraded.

The mayor, Julien Bachard (Les Républicains), did not wait for the government to present his bill on reconstruction, Thursday July 13,announce that” no job (would) engaged ” until the town hall has “names of authors”. “From now on, neutrality is considered as complicity”,added the aedile in a “letter to the attention of the inhabitants of Raguenets”, slipped into their mailboxes and posted on Facebook.

For many residents, including Amina, those responsible must be punished. “It was the heart of the Raguenets. There were activities for children, young people, seniors…” she explains, turning a dark look towards the cultural center. However, there is no question of falling into denunciation: “Even if I had the names, I wouldn’t give them”takes offense at the nurse, shaking her head.

A little further on, sitting on a bench, Olivier blows the smoke from his cigarette under the morning sun. This 50-year-old has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and, according to him, officials, “we know a little who it is”. “I had little highs like that, big like that now”, continues Olivier, moving his hand up from his ankle to the top of his head. Like its neighbour, it is not “not there to denounce them”. Instead, this ex-soldier had a rough timeto those he believes to be behind the facts: “I think of the traders who were looted, the poor. It was really ‘break to break’”.

“People have to say it if they saw something”

A handful of companies are hidingbetween the high towers of Raguenets. In this open-air shopping center, the two ransacked stalls stand out from the others: wooden slabs replace the window of the hairdressing salon and an iron curtain has remained down on one side of the press house. Its manager, Aysun Sadik, is busy behind the counter. She decided to open despite the looting, “without waiting for the returns of the insurance”. “They forced the opening there”explains the young woman, pointing to the top of the facade.

“When we arrived in the morning, it stank of gasoline in the store. We avoided the worst. »

Aysun Sadik, manager of La Presse d’or

at franceinfo

The regulars are still in shock. “It’s terrible what happened…” whispers a customer, before adjusting her scratch game. Asked about the mayor’s decision, the manager assures “wanting to remain neutral”, specifying that his shop is not affected by the work that the town hall could undertake. Reparations to companies will depend on the amounts allocated by insurers, pressed by the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, to simplify the procedures for compensating professionals.

The Raguenets press house, in Saint-Gratien (Val-d'Oise), one of the iron curtains of which remained down, July 11, 2023. (ZOE AUCAIGNE / FRANCEINFO)

If the storesof the shopping center had been set on fire, “the flames could have risen and touched the apartments above”, gets carried away a Gratiennois crossed further. He was sleeping when the violence broke out. “But if I knew who was behind, I would say so”hammersthis forties, who prefers to remain anonymous and supports the mayor’s initiative: “People have to say if they saw something. This can help advance the search and find the criminals. »

Contacted by franceinfo, the Pontoise public prosecutor’s office confirms that it has opened an investigation into the damage committed in Saint-Gratienand adds that “investigations are ongoing” without specifying whether any arrests took place.

A risk of stigmatization of the neighborhood

For SamaGameted opposition Stéphane Bauer (various left), “The mayor chose to bring shame to an entire neighborhood, without even knowing the names of those responsible. We must call for appeasement in this context, and not accentuate the fractures in the city. » The prevention educators, who help to integrate young people into the neighborhood, sweep away the controversy, deemed sterile, and simply call for social peace.

Asked by franceinfo, Julien Bachard has not yet responded. But, to our colleagues from Parisianhe explained that he only sent this letteronly to the inhabitants of Raguenets because “there were no problems elsewhere in the city”. And the mayor to temper: “We know that the first victims are the inhabitants of the district. »

Parents are however particularly targeted by Julien Bachard, in line with the executive, who has planned to distribute flyers reminding them of their ” obligations ” those whose children have been brought to justice. “The inhabitants of Gratien are no longer ready to pay for the damage perpetrated by gangs of young minors whose parents do not supervise and let them act without reacting”, can we read in his missive. An unfair attack, according to Stéphane Bauer.

“Parents have tried to keep the children at home, but some are powerless against young people standing up to them. »

Stéphane Bauer, elected from the opposition

at franceinfo

Beyond this call for parental responsibility, the town hall says it is facing budgetary constraints to carry out the reconstruction. “We don’t know if we will have the financial capacity” for the works, specifies the mayor in his letter.

Since then, the Val-d’Oise department has announced that it will release 10 million euros for the municipalities in order to “to facilitate their approach, pending the expertise and conclusions of the insurance companies”, to renovate “Police and gendarmerie premises, cultural facilities, schools…” In the meantime, some residents, like Amina, are offering to open a kitty or a call for donations for the Camille-Claudel center: “I would be the first to donate money. »

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