Paris is (Still) Burning


After the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, French President Francois Mitterrand loftily told reporters that France was impervious to similar spasms of social unrest, as it "is the country where the level of social protection is the highest in the world." After the April 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, Le Monde, house organ of the French intelligentsia, bemoaned a the rotten culture that produced such gun violence: "This new tragedy presents a new opportunity for American public opinion to interrogate itself about a society which, as one of the students who survived Columbine said at the time, is very much responsible for what has happened." So excuse the schadenfreude, but after another night of rioting convulsed Paris's suburbs, I was surprised to see the socially protected have taken up arms against their oppressors, according to The Guardian:

"We're dealing with an urban guerrilla tactic, with the use of conventional arms and hunting rifles," said Bruno Beschizza, of the Synergie police union.

One rioter with a shotgun "was firing off two shots, reloading in a stairwell, coming back out—boom, boom—and firing again", Gilles Wiart, deputy head of the SGP-FO police union, told the Associated Press.

Angry youths descended on Villiers-le-Bel for two nights in a row, burning cars, looting shops and trashing dozens of buildings, including a local police station. The town's library was destroyed in a fire.


"It's different [than the riots of 2005], there's much more violence," said Christophe, a 30-year-old police officer on duty at Villers-le-Bel and during the 2005 riots. "Back then, it was more of a revolt. This time, they're after us and they're armed."

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