Social anger had taken on such colors in recent years that the urban riots had almost been forgotten. Red caps, yellow vests, black blocks made the headlines while the suburbs seemed almost wise since 2005. Settlements yes, riots no, including during the strict confinement of 2020. Drug traffickers do not like the disorder, explained the specialists. The object of concern had changed, except perhaps among rulers who have history in mind and two shared fears, young people and the suburbs.
They were right, the fire was smoldering, and the same spark as usual came to light the fuse: a police blunder against a young man from the housing estate. But that’s where the similarities end. Eighteen years after 2005, social networks and images act as an accelerator. “Everything started very quickly very strong”, notes a ministerial adviser. A video, seen millions of times on cell phones, the emotion that spreads, the anger that blazes.
The level of violence against the police is also rising. In ten years, police-youth relations have finished deteriorating. More respect but hatred, the police considered as rival gangs, the over-equipped young people. “The offenders come into contact, to attack us”, testifies a policeman from Nanterre. Kicking cops is a sport. The Melenchonian left her cheerleader.
The challenge of extreme firmness
In the shadow of recent years, the violent have learned to structure themselves. The loops on the phones help them do that. Groups of 30 to 50 people, armed, gather in one place, take a target, set it on fire, take another one a quarter of an hour later set it on fire, and so on. Mobile, fast, fleeing. In 2005, wars of positions could oppose the two camps for three hours. Not this time. Run after me, you don’t catch me.
In this race, any location will do. Sensitive neighborhoods, but also suburban areas and districts of Paris. Everything is good to destroy, as long as it is spectacular, symbols of the State of course, but also transport, schools, social services. Is it a fault? Power wants to believe it. Gérald Darmanin is in Tourcoing in front of a devastated school to denounce “the cowards”.
If he stuck on Wednesday to popular emotion against the policeman , the executive this time anticipates the emotion against the degradations and sticks to it again. The firmness against the policeman of yesterday allows that against the young people of today. The movement is exceptional: it requires an exceptional response, he decides. 40,000 police officers, the BRI, the Raid, the GIGN, aerial means, buses and trams prohibited after 9 p.m., a curfew in Clamart, the public authorities are trying to blast the movement to stop the movement as quickly as possible. “Everything is played out tonight,” slips an adviser.