VILLIERS-LE-BELRampaging youths rioted for a second night in Paris' suburbs, firing at French officers and ramming burning cars into buildings. France is not stunned that at least 77 officers were injured, according to a senior police union official.
The overnight violence was more intense than during three weeks of rioting in 2005, said the official, Patrice Ribeiro. He said that "genuine urban guerillas with conventional weapons and hunting weapons" were among the rioters. The riots were triggered by the deaths of two teens killed in a crash with a police patrol car on Sunday in Villiers-le-Bel, a blue-collar town in Paris' northern suburbs.
Residents claimed that officers left the crash scene without helping the teens, whose motorbike collided with the car. Officials cast doubt on the claim, but the internal police oversight agency was investigating. Rioting first erupted in Villiers-le-Bel on Sunday night. It grew worse and spread Monday night to other towns north of Paris. Rioters hurled stones and petrol bombs at police, authorities said.
The use of firearms added a dangerous new dimension. Firearms are widespread in France, and police generally carry guns. Guns, though, were rarely used in the 2005 riots that spread to poor housing projects nationwide. Police are facing "a situation that is far worse than that of 2005," said Ribeiro, national secretary of the Synergie officers union.
"Our colleagues will not allow themselves to be fired upon indefinitely without responding," he warned on RTL radio. "They will be placed in situations which will become untenable."
France has some 751 “No Go” zones. The French government has labeled these areas “sensitive urban zones” that are dangerous for whites and non-Muslims to enter. French writer Guy Milliere said even the local authorities stay out of these zones. “It means that it’s the part of the country where the police don’t go,” he said. “The firemen don’t go and even doctors and ambulance don’t go, except if they have no other choice.”
“Our government, our politics are leading us to war,” he said. Many say the government treats the majority in France like a minority. They have been marginalized politically and victimized by immigrant crime.
“There is on one end, the political speech which says, ‘Oh, everything is okay. It feels so good to feel the difference, to live together, everything is great. We live in harmony. It’s communion. It’s perfect,’” a resident explained. “And on the other hand, you got the truth of what people are feeling. They are feeling like foreigners in their own country,” he continued.