Thursday, March 29, 2007
If I were still living on rue Lafayette, right beside Gare du Nord, as I was a year ago, I would probably have been caught up in these riots that took place during the evening rush hour in the station the other day. Above is a brief glimpse of the action - of rather poor quality, admittedly - captured on a camera-phone by a 20-year-old from Cergy (think Milton Keynes crossed with Ballymun). Anthony C. has since claimed to have been threatened by an anonymous phone call from the police, though it is difficult to hear what is being said on the recording of the message in question on his DailyMotion page. In an interview with Le Monde Anthony insists that everything got out of hand with looting and the like after an initial expression of outrage by bystanders over the heavy-handed treatment of a fare-dodger by the police. There are plenty of dodgy youngsters hanging around Gare du Nord every day looking for trouble - and some reports claim that the fare-dodger was violent towards the ticket inspectors - but you have to ask: how on earth can arresting someone for fare evasion on the Metro result in a pitched battle involving 200 rioters? After the violent raid outside a nursery school, which I alluded to the other day, and the suspiciously well-timed capture of the fugitive Cesare Battisti in Brazil, one thinks that the outgoing Minister for the Interior is exercising a PR machine in a somewhat unorthodox way prior to the elections.