From the French suburbs to Washington: reactions to the riots outside Paris

Material compiled by Team Observers

Two youths were killed in Villiers-le-Bel, a suburb north of Paris, on Sunday when a police car collided with a moped. The event sparked violent clashes between the police and groups of youths in four neighbouring towns. That night, 64 police officers were injured. The French are hoping that the outbreaks will not spread to other cities as they did in November 2005. This amateur video, posted on, was taken at the scene of the accident. We’ve interviewed two local school supervisors (surveillants de lycée), although they wish to remain anonymous. We’re also publishing a reaction by an American blogger, who said, "such a situation wouldn’t happen in the US." You can contact all three of contributors directly on their profile page.

Amateur video taken at the accident site

"It's got nothing to do with Muslims"

This school supervisor works at a school in the area where the accident happened.

In the school [ages 15-18], it’s calm. Outside, in Sarcelles, I saw burnt rubbish cans. And it’s true that the young people are angry. Me, I’m a local guy, I’m young. They see me as one of them, so I don’t have a problem. The ‘hoodies’ that take part in the riots, they’re not all students. You shouldn’t try to understand what they’re doing. It’s just because they don’t know how to express themselves otherwise. It’s got nothing to do with Muslims. The media’s dramatising what’s happening. And so the young people don’t swallow it. They’re always saying: “the media; Sarkozy - same difference - we can’t believe either".

Contact "Surveillant Sarcelles" on his profile page (he speaks english).

Mouhsin's blog (one of the boys killed)

This is the blog of one of the teenagers killed in the accident. Mouhsin writes in French 'text' slang. Here are some examples of his posts:

We know who's in control
Not the blacks
Not the Arabs.
Not the godfathers.
Not the gypsies.
God is great.
We fear only him."


"You laugh at me
'Coz I’m Different,
But I laugh at you,
'Coz you’re all the Same."

“It’s the Fame Academy of the suburbs”

From a former school supervisor:

It’s necessary to condemn what happened. I’m left wing, but I listened to the speeches of the Socialist Party, and they shocked me. They never actually clearly said that what the boys were doing was condemnable and that we shouldn’t excuse them. Of course there are social reasons behind this. But there, we see young people who just want to have fun, laugh, and vandalise everything. It’s a game for them. It’s the Fame Academy of the suburbs.

I worked with young people from the suburbs. The problem is, all they want is a Rolex, like president Sarkozy. They don’t have any social or political demands. It’s just bling bling. They want to be rich, but most of them don’t have any qualifications and they don’t want to make any effort to succeed.

I’ve been in close contact with them at the school where I worked. The problem is that some of them can’t even express themselves, not on anything. They don’t know how to communicate. So they’re frustrated.

And the ones who suffer, they’re the small ones. They don’t burn cars of the families with loads of brothers. They burn the cars of the weak families, the families who only have sisters, or lone women."

Contact "Pierre" on his profile page (he speaks english).

"This situation wouldn't happen en masse in the United States due to the general support that our population offers towards our various police forces."

It will definitely be interesting to see what, if anything, President Nicolas Sarkozy does about this now that he's in power. As you'll recall, he was roundly critiqued for taking a tough stance against lawlessness last time around.

It's interesting to note that a French prosecutor has ordered an internal investigation for what's described as, "involuntary manslaughter and failure to assist persons in danger," yet it was the bike that smashed into the patrol car, and even according to local witnesses, "neither youth was wearing a helmet." Locals accuse the police of fleeing the scene of an accident, which obviously is not an appropriate thing to do, yet the area in which this incident occurred isn't exactly notorious for its "kind" treatment of officers of the law, much like the hostility shown towards the law by drug dealers in Southeast D.C.

This situation wouldn't happen en masse in the United States due to the general support that our population offers towards our various police forces. That's not to say that we don't have problem areas - The southeast quarter of Washington, D.C. is often described (and rightly so) as a war zone due to the same issues of lawlessness that your police force is currently dealing with. Philadelphia has been called "Killadelphia" due to its soaring murder rate, Baltimore has areas that have traditionally been a problem (roughly 262 homicides this year). But these problems are limited to very small areas.

(Hmm, with all that in mind, perhaps there are quite a few similarities between our situations: Large welfare populations concentrated in squalid urban areas behaving in a lawless manner?)"

Contact "Brian" on his profile page.

“I want to know what exactly went on, and that justice is brought to the case”

This school supervisor works at a school in the area where the accident happened.

There was a memorial walk for the two that died. We couldn’t go, because we had nobody to cover us at the school. But the headmaster was there. There’s even a collection at the school to raise money for t-shirts with photos of Mouhsin and Lamari. I will be giving. Me, I want to know what exactly went on, and that justice is brought to the case. But the young people are really angry. In the school, it’s alright, but you shouldn’t try talking to them outside. And journalists shouldn’t come. It’s risky for them."

Contact Anissa on her profile page (she speaks english).


portugese police on madeline mccann abduction

the portugese police have been useless and because madeline is a british child her case as been put aside she is 4 years old abducted from her bed in pri
a dilous hotel lastyear.
her abduction got reported straight away and portugese police didnt start searching until the next day leaving the abductor plenty of time to get away with her.
maelines life is in there hands and all the time theyve taken blaiming the parents could have been out finding the real abductor and now that little british girl could be sitting at her home. theres one god and we're all his children take stand and help her.
if anybody nows where to find her please do the right thing and save her. everybody prayer that she is safe and well,please inform the police if anybody nows anything.