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(en) France, A Week of Rebellion Against Social Injustice (Alternative Libertaire)

Date Mon, 07 Nov 2005 12:00:29 +0200

Within a week the riots that started in Clichy-sous-Bois as a result of the
deaths of Ziad and Banou have spread to other suburbs around Paris, and now
throughout the country. This is the unavoidable result of five years of
Sarko-show [a reference to Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy], eight
years of security legislation, and thirty years of social decline.
Ziad and Banou died of electrical burns in a power sub-station, and a
third youth is in serious condition. They thought they were being
chased by the police. Will we ever know whether this was the case,
whether the police are guilty of non-assistance of persons in danger?
Whatever the exact details of how these two teenagers died, their
death was the spark. Young people in the suburbs already hated the
State which for years has only appeared as police, courts, and
(increasingly) prisons.

People in working class neighbourhoods
live in constant fear, both
for themselves and for their children. They are afraid of humiliating
identity checks, arbitrary arrests, unpunished police violence, and
spurious convictions for “outrage and rebellion,” all in order
to meet some police quota. Even recent official reports have called
attention to this increasing lawlessness on the part of the police.

And what can one say about provocations of the Minister of the
Interior, and even worst about the policy which sees the suburbs as
territory that needs to be reconquered, all of which increasingly
resembles colonial and military “peacekeeping.”

And so yes, we are sorry that this violence – this answer to the
illegitimate violence of those in power – is so often paradoxically
directed against the very people who are forced to live in these
neighbourhoods, who already have to deal with State and ruling class
violence. The logic of this spontaneous rebellion is somewhat
understood by the population, but its legitimacy is hurt by the
destruction of cars, schools and buses.

But at the same time, we must remember how the State responds
when these young people and their families do choose other
methods, such as filing complaints against the police which hardly
ever result in convictions (remember the work of the Bouge qui
Bouge group in Dammarie-les-Lys*). Or the Arabs’ march in
1980, which was broken by the Socialists who were in power at the
time and recuperated by SOS Racism.

We support the rebellion against injustice, the sense of mass
solidarity, the elements of political awareness amongst most young
people. As such, we understand and are in solidarity with both the
necessity and the reasons behind the direct action now taking place
throughout the working class areas.

This week or riots expresses the hopelessness of the most
marginalized section of a generation with no future. Yet it should
also be seen as being connected to the government’s strategy of
tension and current repression of the social movements
(transportation, postal workers, students, anti-GMO activists…) All
of these struggles bear witness to the same social insecurity.

We are not going to demand a return to “community
policing” or building new sports centers so that young people
can work out their frustrations in silence. Does anyone seriously
believe that this will solve the social tension caused by the political
and social violence of those in power?

We are not even going to demand that the Minister of the Interior
resign, as has a section of the left. This is a side-issue, a
politician’s issue, and it is scandalous when we remember that
the Plural Left [1] also passed security legislation and even today has
not broken with the dominant liberal-security model.**

There are certain to be more explosions of anger unless there is a
redistribution of work and wealth, all the more certainly so if social
regression, inequality, racism and marginalization continue

“Prevention,” religious recuperation and repression will all
be useless. Only justice and social and economic equality can solve

Federal secretariat of Alternative libertaire,

November 5th 2005


(*) Alternative libertaire n°110, septembre 2002 :
Cité en deuil, cité en résistance” (to view the article in
French, click here http://alternativelibertaire.org/index.php?dir=journal/al110&page=110_09.htm&n=1)
[translators note: this 2002 article details an
association against police abuse in the suburb of Dammarie-les-Lys,
a group which came about specifically following the deaths of two
men, one during a police chase and one shot in the head by the

(**) For instance, in the National Assembly on July 16th 2002 the
[Socialist] deputy Julien Dray addressed the Minister of the Interior,
who was at the time implementing a whole series of repressive laws.
Dray said: “Sociey […] has no solution other than repression
[…] For the good of our country, I can only wish you success […]
Your plan is in many ways in line with the strategy prepared by the
previous [“Plural Left”] government.”

[1] Translators note: The “Plural Left” (later renamed
“United Left”) formed the government in France between
1997 and 2002. It was a Socialist Party government with ministers
from four smaller left parties: the Communist Party, the Greens, the
MDC, and the Left Radicals.

Please note that the above text about the past week’s riots in
Clichy-Sous-Bois comes from the anarchist group Alternative
libertaire in France - http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/

Translated by kersplebedeb <info-A-kersplebedeb.com>
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