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PC News Blackout in Amiens: Self Censorship by Media?

This was not how France’s new president, François Hollande, hoped to celebrate his first hundred days in office. The town of Amiens was rocked overnight as hundreds of rioters, mostly youths, engaged in what some have called “urban guerilla warfare”, evoking bitter memories of 2005, when France was convulsed by three weeks of nationwide unrest.

London’s Daily Telegraph has more:

During three hours of running battles with more than 100 rioters, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the unrest, suffering injuries caused by buckshot, fireworks and other projectiles. Some 16 policemen were injured in the clashes.

“We found 12mm cartridges, so they certainly used live bullets,” said Marc Richez of the Synergie Officiers police union.

Back home, the New York Times quoted a spokeswoman for Amiens as saying that, “We don’t know the real cause of this violence,” while CNN described how “images from the north Amiens neighborhood showed burned-out cars and the charred wreckage of a kindergarten and a sports center.”

But what you will not find in any of these articles is a clear description of exactly who the young people involved in the riots were.

Of course, in the past, France has been swept by waves of rioting among young immigrants from North Africa or others born in France whose families are of North African origin. Clearly, it’s an important part of the news story whether these rioters are from the same demographic group or from some other group of angry people in France.

Yet all these media outlets refuse to say anything about the subject.

However, there’s a clue in the CNN story that the diligent reader can find. The riots are related, most of the stories say, to a feeling in the unnamed, unspecified “community” that an arrest for a traffic violation was too brutal.

“A local resident told BFM the community was angered Sunday when police carried out an “aggressive” traffic stop as a funeral was being held for a young man killed in a road accident last week.”

“Sabrina Hadji, a sister of the victim, said police fired shots as people — including women, children and the elderly — were gathered for the ceremony.

The community is tired of being treated without respect and “like animals,” she told BFM, and a silent march was organized as an expression of “anger because we are never listened to.”

Via Meadia doesn’t know which “community” the rioters belonged to, or if there even was one monolithic community fighting the police in Amiens. After all, youth unemployment across France is at a staggeringly high 23.3%, and is even higher in the north of the country. High temperatures and bleak prospects often make for an explosive combination.

But at the same time, it is irresponsible of the media to not address the identity of the “community” head-on, if only to say that all the facts aren’t clear yet. Readers have fresh memories of the country-wide riots in France in 2005, and the major storyline then was the failure of the French system to integrate an increasingly alienated Muslim population. Coverage of these latest disturbances should at least tell us if this is more of the same or something completely different.

If the “community” happened to be of North African origin, that would not make us think that all immigrants in France of Muslim faith and North African origin share these attitudes. We have met far too many thoughtful, educated, well-integrated French citizens with this background to smear a whole ethnicity with the actions of some.

It’s bizarre and disturbing that quite straightforward news in France isn’t being reported by major news outlets. Is it self-censorship for the sake of political correctness? Are the French authorities strongly suggesting that certain facts not be reported? What exactly is happening in France? Via Meadia would like to know, and we suspect that we are not alone.

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  • Jason

    As far as the media not mentioning the ethnicity of the rioters, the explanation is obvious.

    As to the question of whether this is self-censorship or directed by the French state, that’s an open question. Back in 2005 and again at intermittent points afterwards, the French government requested news organizations stop covering the riots completely…supposedly under the supposition that do so only fed them.

  • Kenny

    They’re Muslims!

    “Yet all these media outlets refuse to say anything about the subject.”

    Well, Via Meadia is little different from the mainstream media, bowing as it does to the prevailing political correct dictates of the multiculturalists.

  • Fred

    I’ve learned whenever there’s a riot in France it’s one of two things: either a certain “community” is having one of its periodic rabies epidemics or some politician screwed up and made the French think they might actually have to work for a living.

  • Neville

    The only reason this is even news is failures to report that go back over many years. Look on YouTube to see regular episodes of rioting (’emeutes’) in North Amiens back to at least 1996, including in 2011. The area is also described there as part of ‘The Zone’: the archipelago of urban areas in France where the police generally do not patrol. There is only one ethnic group in France the police are afraid of (and are routinely directed to avoid confronting).

  • Mrs. Davis

    I’m thinking Walloons. Or Anabaptists. Yeah, that’s it. The Anabaptists.

    Give me a break. We know who it is and why they do it. It won’t stop till a stop is put to it.

  • BobJustBob

    And this group isn’t going to politely wear a convenient symbol to allow themselves to be marked. This group also isn’t going to voluntarily walk into the cattle cars this time.

    By the time the Euros get scared enough to finely act it’ will be far to late. The Euros are old and tired and decadent and the “community” isn’t any of these things.

    This time they’ve gotten past the Gates of Vienna…

  • Luke Lea

    Fair enough. Next time you do a story on the “resurgence” of anti-Semitism in Western Europe you might do a demographic breakdown also. Political correctness is intellectual Stalinism. Orwell taught us that.

  • qsd

    I’m French, the violence has been going on for a few days without being public. I inform myself on far-right internet media. To speak clearly we’re talking about muslim ghettos, where people are arabs and blacks. A school, a gym, a police station and dozens of cars were burnt. Sixteen police officers have been injured, by stones, fireworks, and gunfire.

  • DougS

    In 2007 or so I was at a hostel in Australia, where I met two English students and one from France. We started talking about the Muslim issue in Europe. The French guy had a “Fox News” point of view on the issue, as did I. The two English guys didn’t say too much, and later at dinner they didn’t eat with us. The French guy said, that was because you can’t say the things we were saying (straight Fox News type commentary!) in the UK/Europe. And that you’d get fired from your job if you did so. Fired for saying the same exact stuff that is broadcast around America via FoxNews everyday! This was shocking. And this is how we come to get such milqutoast news coverage from the Old World.

  • Lorenz Gude

    PC is indeed intellectual Stalinism. It is also a betrayal of Liberalism in all it’s historical incarnations as enumerated here by WRM. Furthermore it is the kind of social disease or collective loss of meaning that brought the Roman empire to pathetic ruin. I known from experience that Algerians and other Francophones of North African origin have long had less than equal opportunity much like Blacks in America. I can clearly remember the vans peculiar to the riot police in Paris lined up in the side streets in anticipation of some march or other and that it was understood that a few bodies would be floating in the Seine in the morning. Not the Anglo Saxon way of doing things, but effective I thought to myself at the time with a little smile of recognition for the bottom line. Now there is no bottom line and even if the Muslims are not Islamists and Salifists France has allowed itself to be colonized.

  • thibaud

    When/if Mead deigns to post about the Aurora mass shooting, then we can take seriously his tut-tutting about politically-motivated “news blackouts.”

  • Kris

    “The riots are related, most of the stories say, to a feeling in the unnamed, unspecified ‘community’ that an arrest for a traffic violation was too brutal.”

    On pourrait pas tous s’entendre?

    Please let me know if I have correctly understood the following chain of events:
    1. Local “youth” dies in a traffic accident.
    2. At some later point, police arrest a man for reckless driving.
    3. Since this arrest took place during the funeral of the dead youth, it was seen as “insensitive”.
    4. Therefore, much rioting, including the burning down of a local kindergarten and a sports center, both serving the local community.

  • Art Deco

    A set of hypotheses:

    These are social problems which can be addressed, but in order to do so you have to offend vested interests (most particularly the beneficiaries of the complex of regulations and social practice which render French labor markets so sclerotic) and a critical mass of the ‘new class’ would have to make concessions to the insights of the ordinary people that they despise (in the realms of police protection, penology, immigration policy, and immigration control). It is a reasonable wager that as long as the ruling class in France can get away without making these concessions and offending these interests, nothing with be done.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This post would have been more compelling if it told us what we won’t find in the French media, instead of what we don’t find in the Daily Telegraph, the NY Times, and CNN.

  • Arun

    Mr. Mead, did you at all the read the French newspapers on this or watch the reports on the French TV news last night? The riot in Amiens has been well covered, as much as any such riot in this country. There is no news “blackout”, self-censorship, or whatever. What happened in Amiens on Monday night has been happening with regularity in France for the past three decades. There may be a particular spark here or there but there is a dreary sameness to all such ‘émeutes’, which invariably involve clashes between immigrant-origin youths and the police in or around a suburban public housing project (cité), and with the youths targeting symbols of the state for vandalism. There is a mountain of social scientific research on the phenomenon, as well as numerous good journalistic enquêtes. One aspect of the problem that has indeed been underreported over the years is the execreable relations between the immigrant youths and the police, and the responsibility of the latter in provoking the clashes (the media is now thankfully giving more attention to the behavior of the police, as did France 2’s report last night).

    As for the media “refus[ing] to say anything about” the community origins of the rioters, there is no reason to do so, as there is no mystery whatever on this score. In 99% of the incidents, the rioting youths are of Maghrebi and/or sub-Saharan African immigrant origin. If the youths in such riots were “White” French, Turks, Portuguese, Roms, etc, *that* would be news, and would no doubt be higlighted in media reports. In any case, the ethnic origins of the youths are manifest in the TV reports. As for the youths being Muslims, there is, once again, no reason to make any mention of this in the media, as (a) the putative religious identity or faith of the youths is entirely irrelevant to the incidents in question and (b) a certain number of youths – of sub-Saharan African origin – are, in fact, not Muslims.

  • Charles R. Williams

    How open and honest was the reporting in the US on recent flash mob racial violence?

  • Art Deco

    and the responsibility of the latter in provoking the clashes

    Arun, without chapter and verse from non-odoriferous sociogical inquiry (and sociologists are properly regarded with reserve and suspicion), you will likely not persuade many people in a forum such as this. We had masses of experience with urban rioting in this country over a seven year period beginning in 1964 and ending in 1971, and our police learned a thing or two about how to control them. Youths riot because police allow it. One needs force applied in sufficient quantity and without apology. The root cause is the same: original sin as manifested in young men with peculiarly short time horizons and poor impulse control.

  • Tom Gates

    Let’s give Dr. Mead a break. Afterall, his employer was just named the 9th most liberal College in the US by “Minding the Campus” so imagine being surrounded by the thibaud types day in and day out.

  • Robert

    PC is indeed intellectual Stalinism, and the media (ours, theirs) are active collaborationists.

  • Arun

    Art Deco: here are two posts from my blog (one from today), where I get into the issue of the French police

  • Luke Lea

    Intellectual Leninism might be a better way to characterize PC than intellectual Stalinism. Lenin invented these techniques starting with the concept of democratic centralism. Stalin just follwed suit. As did Mao. China is still saddled with it.

  • Beauceron

    Please. This disgusts me. “The West”, that is a culture of European peoples that existed in Europe and North America, will be dead within 50 years. It will not die of natural causes, it has been murdered by the Left. It’s policies of mass immigration and erosion of the traditional culture and mores of the West has led inevitably to this end. This was intentional, done with malice and forsight.

    If I hear one more Lefty go on about how we have to work harder to integrate these “youths” my head will explode. They do not want to integrate– and who can blame them and why should they? Their culture, immune from attack by PC leftists, has proved to be deeper and more powerful than the West’s. Why should they to bow to the weak? They should not. They will fight and they will take over.

    As Europe and the US– because of the intentional policies of the Left– become less and less “European” because of the exponential growth of immigrant populations, indigenous Europeans and Americans of European descent are going to have to get used to the very different world created for them by their elites.

    The West, whatever it was and whatever may have been both good and bad about it, is dying. This self-censorship is just emblematic of a far, far deeper problem. We dare not even name these “youths”– just as here in the US we dare not even call illegal immigrants “illegal” anymore– much less have a reasonable discussion on what to do about it.

    The battle is over. There is nothing to be done about it. The West is gone and the Left has won.

  • Sam L.

    Arun cuts to the chase: One need not identify the perpetrators because it is perfectly clear who/what they are: North Africans/Arabs/Muslims there, blacks here.

    Much like reading TASS and PRAVDA, one learns to interpret what is unsaid by what IS said.

    One could be wrong, of course, but the “news” is not telling “the whole truth”.

  • Art Deco

    Arun, you are engaging in an apologetical exercise justifying widespread vandalism, arson, and theft in response to petty nuisances (typically experienced by third parties, by the way).

    Of course police engage in ‘profiling’. To do otherwise is to prescribe massive inefficiencies in law enforcement. The grand jurisdiction in this country with a generation long history of being most scrupulous about the rubrics of common-and-garden social encounters between cops and citizens is Detroit. Detroit is where the wheels have fallen off western civilization. New York City, by contrast, pioneered the re-introduction of aggressive policing and vigorous enforcement of ordinances meant to curb petty disorder. New York City has seen a 75% decline in its homicide rate over the last twenty years. There are lessons in both experiences.

  • Eurydice

    I don’t see why this is different from or worse than the usual incomplete reporting about any internal event happening in another country.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Sam L.:

    “One need not identify the perpetrators because it is perfectly clear who/what they are: North Africans/Arabs/Muslims there, blacks here.

    … like reading TASS and PRAVDA, one learns to interpret what is unsaid by what IS said.”

    Sadly, you are wrong on both counts.

    While rational, informed, non-PC people know who those “youts” are by noticing what is said and unsaid, most people (80%?) are not interested enough, not knowledgeable enough, not intelligent enough.

    After all to know who the youts are is a Crimethink.

    So, the Ruling Class/Media lies stand.

    While I have no knowledge of hard data about how much people believed or not PRAVDA in Soviet times, I guess most people just tuned it out, not consciously marked it as lies.

    It was after 50+ years history of Soviet lies.
    We are not near this point in US.

    I would not be shocked if the Blog Master himself does not know or does not allow himself to know the youts demographics.

    Crimethink is a powerful tool.

  • Corlyss

    Since 1/3 of the French media is owned by the government and subservient to it, the “self-censorship” might not be so self. The French media as a whole knows it operates by the sufferance of the government, whether owned by it or not, and does not routinely launch narratives the apparatchiks don’t like. All this bad news undermines the Euro happy-talk about how the major economies will NOT let the EU project die.

  • Mick The Reactionary


    “Self Censorship by Media?”

    Perhaps one day ViaMeadia Komment Kontrol Censors will spell out their rules.

    As it is The Blog Master is in a weak position to talk about censorship.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I must take sides with Arun, to the extent that the main point of his first comment here was that PC news blackouts are a mostly Anglo-American pathology.
    This fact became obvious to me at the time of the Cartoon Jihad, early 2006.
    (Though it might not be obvious to people unable to compare Anglo-American and continental mentalities.)

    As for what the French police did wrong, and the role Islam plays in these riots, those of us lucky enough not to live in France are qualified to offer only mild opinions.

  • Mick The Reactionary


    An excellent post. Perhaps a bit over-reaching.

    “The battle is over. There is nothing to be done about it. The West is gone and the Left has won.”

    There are at least 50 million, perhaps as many as 100 million people in this country whose thinking similar to yours and mine.

    The issue is will the proverbial frog be boiled so slow that it will never realize what’s happening until it is cooked?

    Will 50-100M Americans meekly give up their country – and themselves – without any resistance?

    Maybe, we had examples in recent history. I would give examples but they may offend unknown Komment Kontrol Rules.

    While we did not have a clear-cut positive examples of recovery, we had some indications that it could happen.

    Most European peoples of former Soviet Union have managed to climb from soviet sewers and separate themselves from Muslim peoples in the East. On balance they are better of and doing relatively well.

    Most peoples of former Yugoslavia did as well, not without unforced errors that provoked globalizers in the West.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    New York Times had article about youts fun and games in France:

    From article:

    “Weeks of rioting in 2005, in the largely immigrant suburbs around Paris, brought about a state of emergency and much soul-searching in France about integration, assimilation and the ghettolike housing projects that ring the city.”

    Evidently at no time in the past seven years has all that “soul-searching” enabled the French to reach the massively self-evident conclusion about Muslim immigrant.

    That’s a funny how all that soul-searching — seven years of national soul-searching — has lead to zero new thoughts, let alone to the most obvious thought.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Tom Gates:

    ” … give Dr. Mead a break. Afterall, his employer was just named the 9th most liberal College in the US by “Minding the Campus” so imagine being surrounded by the thibaud types day in and day out.”

    Mead has tenure, does he not?
    Search at says he is.

    Interesting, there is a short bio from which one learns that Mr or Professor would be appropriate address but Dr is not.

    I thought tenure is justified to stiffen faculty’s spine.

    What’s its value if a few thoughtless lefties frighten the Tenured James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs?

  • Damir Marusic

    @28 Mick:

    Here’s the comments policy. You can find it on the sidebar.

    And here’s a recent rap on the knuckles that Walter wrote just the other month.

    And let’s get some other points clear here:

    Via Meadia is not a soap-box for commenters, nor is this public property where anyone can say whatever they please. If you want a soap-box, I recommend starting your own blog. No one will censor you there.

    We are trying, understaffed as we are, to cultivate a pleasant community for intelligent people to exchange views in the comments. We’re not trying to make things overly civil so as to make the place dull, but the comments must have some sort of value-add to stay.

    The comment you’re obliquely complaining about in the Haunted Independence post, which I deleted and left a note on, was an empty rant which went on and on calling President Barack Obama “Hussein” and added no value whatsoever to the discussion at hand. None.

    And please don’t bother playing the gotcha game of finding a comment where something just like what you wrote got through. We are not infallible, and as I said, we’re understaffed. I chose to make an example of you, and I hope that other unruly commenters will take heed. The team will be bringing the hatchet down much more harshly in the coming days, as the tone of the discussion has hit some new lows lately.

    Keep it on topic, and keep it relatively civil. That’s all we ask.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Snorri Godhi:

    “… what the French police did wrong, and the role Islam plays in these riots, those of us lucky enough not to live in France are qualified to offer only mild opinions.”

    I would guess that maybe 200M Indians lucky enough not to live in France will give one of their kidneys to move there.

    May be 300M Chinese would gladly follow.

    Islam riots is world-wide phenomena.
    Islam riots in Western Welfare democracies is Western Europe-wide phenomena.

    There was no Muslim riots in the US only because Muslim numbers did not reach critical mass. Give them 5-10 years, Americans will get personal experience.

    One does not have to live in France or even know much about that wonderful – on balance – country to understand precisely what’s going on.

    So yes, one can have strong opinions about the issue without ever visiting France.

    Of course it is a big sad hole in one’s life experience to not visit France, at least 3-5 times over lifetime, 2 – 4 weeks at the time.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @33 Damir Marusic, apparently Comment Controller, says:

    “Via Meadia … is [not] public property”

    Oh, please. You point is obvious and trivial.

    As an angel investor in a few early internet start-ups, one or two with blog-like products, I bet my money on things like ViaMead are NOT being public property.

    “The comment … was an empty rant which went on and on calling President Barack Obama “Hussein” and added no value whatsoever to the discussion at hand. None.”

    Obviously I disagree, I think it was a brilliant comment that untold millions around the globe would love to read if they had a chance.
    But we cannot debate it, could we?

    While you have an absolute right to censor it, commenting about it in a negative fashion without showing what it is … well it is something else.
    It kind of smells totalitarian.

    It is like having a debate after silencing your opponent by stuffing digital towel down his mouth.

    “The team will be bringing the hatchet down much more harshly in the coming days”

    I guess average 3.2 comments per blog post is too high, need to bring it down to 1.2.

    You may as well have no comments blog. Nothing wrong with that policy, some like Instapundit are very successful on their own terms.

    Comments are useful for blog traffic only if they help generate more of it. 2 or 4 comments per entry are not doing it. And you have to spend money on Komment Kontrol manpower. You will be better off with no comments and no Komment Kontrolers.

    Something is wrong with you operational/business model.

  • WigWag

    “We are trying, understaffed as we are, to cultivate a pleasant community for intelligent people to exchange views in the comments. We’re not trying to make things overly civil so as to make the place dull…” (Damir Marusic)

    With all due respect, Damir, you and your colleagues need to be a little bit more introspective. Has it occurred to you that despite the fact that Professor Berger’s blog and Adam Garfinkle’s blog don’t moderate comments that neither of those two blogs seem to attract the type of comments that you object to? Have you noticed that the comments on “Religion and Other Curiosities” and “The Middle East and Beyond” are almost always on topic and polite?

    Why do you suppose it is that Via Meadia attracts the types of comments that you object to while the other blogs don’t?

    Obviously it can’t be that the topics that Berger and Garfinkle discuss are less contentious than the topics discussed at Via Meadia; what subjects could be more contentious than religion or the Middle East? Anyone familiar with Professor Berger’s posts knows that he’s hardly less opinionated than Walter Russell Mead and it takes no time at all to figure out that Adam Garfinkle is no shrinking violet.

    So why are the comments on Via Meadia so much more acerbic? Perhaps, Damir, you should consider the possibility that the tenor of the comments is reflected from the tenor of the posts. Perhaps, snarky and sometimes nasty posts inspire snarky and sometimes nasty comments.

    Neither Berger nor Garfinkle are shy about sharing their opinions but neither of them tries to disguise their opinions as facts. It is really rich, Damir, to watch you object to comments dripping with ridicule in response to posts that are all too often dripping with ridicule.

    Maybe the best way for Via Meadia to “cultivate a pleasant community for intelligent people to exchange views” is to publish posts that are edgy, provocative and incisive without being any more snarky than the comments that you hope to see written in response to the posts.

    There was a time not that long ago that the posts at Via Meadia were the best that could be found anywhere. Whether you agreed with them or disagreed with them, a reader nearly always learned something and was smarter and more informed for having visited this space that you so haughtily remind your devoted readers is not “public property.” The reason for this success is obvious; Walter Russell Mead is one of the most intelligent, eloquent and provocative public intellectuals that the United States is graced to have. Personally, I think that he approaches the status of national treasure.

    Unfortunately, as the role of the youngsters who intern for him has increased at Via Meadia, the quality of the posts has declined dramatically. Even worse, the posts have become far nastier and are often more snarky than the comments that you object to. Trust me, Damir, any reasonably intelligent reader with even a limited understanding of the English language can distinguish between the posts that Walter Russell Mead is primary author on and the posts where his assistants are the primary writers.

    You’re right, Damir, Via Meadia isn’t “public property.” Frankly, I think you would be better off following the policy of old media; just don’t print letters to the editor or comments that you don’t like rather than lecturing your readers about who is in charge; but that, as you have been so assiduous to point out, is up to you.

    The view of this long time loyal reader of the AI blogs (and an AI subscriber, by the way) is that the quality of Via Meadia is deteriorating. My strong suspicion is that the reason for the decline in quality is because the people helping Professor Mead write his blog are simply not first rate. I am sure that they are all exceedingly bright and eager and that someday as their skills develop, they will be great; right now they simply are not.

    If Walter Russell Mead and AI are happy to associate Professor Mead’s name with inferior posts that will be attributed by most people to him, that’s fine.

    But if you want fewer snarky comments; rather than lecturing your readers, you might find you have better success by simply publishing fewer sophomoric and snarky posts.

  • marie

    I am french and I can tell you that all you’re saying is true. Of course they’re muslims. But we can’t say it otherwise we are “racists”, this is how France works. Muslim people are now ruling the country, it’s islamized like never!!! French medias are massively for Hollande and for the left! They made him win the elections by doing a LOT of propaganda against Sarkozy. They are now hiding MANY informations and self-censoring! We are so sick of all this, we are sick of the medias being so complaisant!!! A civil war is what’s going to happen! Hollande is the worst thing that could happen to France! Please, keep reporting, keep telling what the medias won’t tell here. We need the world to know what’s going on here, we need foreign countries to help us!

  • Arun

    Here is a follow-up blog post on the Amiens riot, where, among other things, I give a counter example of the supposed PCness of the French press when it comes to the ethnic origins of the youths in the cités

  • Kris

    A young man dies to what is described as reckless motorcycle riding. The police respond by increasing their law enforcement efforts, and arrest another young man for driving against traffic.

    Is this:
    (i) Perfectly reasonable?
    (ii) Completely unacceptable, a provocation by the “insensitive” “racist” “cowboy” police, which justifies physical attacks on the police and widespread rioting involving the destruction of the community’s own property, including a local kindergarten and a sports center?

    Tough choice.

  • Art Deco

    Sorry, Arun. Not buying it. Any public agency can stand to improve its performance. The residents cannot claim the mantle of legitimacy by alleging performance deficits unless something truly egregious has been systematically occurring, and you have not demonstrated that is the case.

    Your labor markets are wretched, your housing markets are wretched, you are adverse to imprisoning the disorderly, and your effective immigration policy causes you social challenges you do not need. Sure, tell your cops to improve their dance moves, but that cannot be considered to be your true problem.

  • Dick Pickett

    24/08/2012French police cleared of provoking Amiens riot

    Police in riot-hit Amiens have been cleared of provoking two nights of unrest that devastated part of the northern French city earlier this month.

    Residents of Amiens’ northern quarter have claimed rioting that caused six million euros ($7.5 million) worth of damage and left 17 police officers injured was triggered by heavy-handed policing of a funeral and wake in the neighbourhood on Sunday August 12.

    Police chiefs ordered an internal investigation which has now concluded that the officers involved had acted appropriately and within guidelines.

    In particular, the arrest of a man who was driving on the wrong side of the road was “legitimate and necessary,” a preliminary report said.

    The arrest of the man triggered a confrontation between police and dozens of youths who had been at the wake for a 20-year-old who died in a motorcycle accident the previous week.

    Police used tear gas to disperse the group of youths that night and more serious clashes followed 24 hours later in which several cars, a local school and a sports centre were badly damaged by fire.

    A total of seven people, four of them minors, have been arrested since the rioting, which involved more than 100 youths.

    Two of them were last week given suspended prison sentences following fast-track trials on criminal damage charges.

    The case of a third man, who faces more serious charges of having incited others to riot, is due to take place on September 12.

    Two of the minors have been charged with assaulting police officers.

    The unrest in Amiens has helped place crime and security at the top of the political agenda in France.

    The new Socialist government has promised to reverse a decline in police numbers with special attention given to marginalised urban areas which have periodically erupted into violence over the last decade.

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