Monday, June 26, 2006

French unions declare: “Firefighters are not cannon fodder”

An exhilirating press conference in France last week, as the main unions representing french firefighters and police officers demand more support from the government in the undeclared colonial war raging in France.

[translated, with difficulty, from a french television station's website; clarifications, or corrections if they are needed, are welcome]

June 23 2006

“Firefighters are not cannon fodder”

Vehicles shattered, firefighters targeted by showers of projectiles; firefighting troops must increasingly face attacks while responding in certain quarters. A situation denounced Friday during a press conference by a union of firefighters and a union of policemen.

“It began with verbal assaults. Later, they attacked material things. Today, it is the men who are targeted.” These proposals from Jean-Louis Ségura, departmental president of the national union of professional firefigthers (SNSPP)-CFTC, reveal the malaise, while three police officers and two firefighters were wounded during collisions with a group of 50 to 100 individuals in the Grande-Borne quarter at Grigny at the beginning of the month. And at Viry-Châtillon, during a response to an accident on June 5, the firefighters’ vehicles were subject to a stoning from about thirty hooded persons, according to the SNSPP. They were later stoned while inside the vehicle. The first-aider who was treating the victim of the accident, a slightly wounded child, was struck in the head.

Enough is enough: Friday the union of firefighters held a press conference at Gif-sur-Yvette (Essonne) along with the police union, Alliance. “It is unimaginable that firefighters may not venture into certain neighborhoods”, denounced Patrice Beunard, general secretary of the SNSPP, assuring that firefighters “are not cannon fodder”. Yves Louis, one of the policy makers for Alliance, main union for peace officers, spoke of “a loss of guidance, as a result of the development of “american-style ghettoes”.
“For the last two years, the gang phenomenon has been spreading beyond the districts”, added Rénald Buson, Alliance delegate from Essonne, referring to brawls between two gangs from Viry-Chatillon and Morsang-sur-Orge, two rather quiet cities in the Essonne, over the last week-end. “41 police officers were wounded responding in Essonne since the beginning of the year”, making it an “increase of 15%” in comparison to 2005, stated Yves Louis. These attacks occur almost daily, [and] firefighters refuse to suffer them in silence. “Is it normal that one speaks of calm evenings when ten cars burn in the night?”, asks Jean-Louis Ségura.

Beyond the simple offical report, the two unions call upon politicians. They have demanded that 2007 presidential election candidates make their intentions known in the face of this aggravation of violence. For Yves Louis, several measures must be taken, notably in the census returns from sensitive neighborhoods, “known to all”, he underlines, with veritable strides to reconquer these districts. “We expect the courts to apply the laws”, he clarifies. “The return to the laws, that is sufficient.” He also insists there is a lack of manpower in certain districts with a different deployment of CRS [french riot police forces].

There's simply no way that France can ignore the laments and warnings this time: they come from unions!


tiberge said...

Charles -

Fine article. The fact that the unions are complaining about the violence is certainly a good sign. But they will have to go much further and modify their basic leftist principles if they are to rid France of criminal elements. What they are apt to do is to threaten to strike (or to actually strike) which will turn the people against them. But we have to wait and see. If the left wakes up, the Chirac-Sarkozy right will have to follow suit, since they seem to be completely under the influence of the left, and lacking any "repères" of their own.

Which brings me to the word "repère". I don't know where you got the notion of "sanctuary". A "repère" is like a signpost, something that guides and directs you, so that you don't lose your way. To say that these thugs are without "repères" is to treat them as lost souls who need to be set back on track.

There is another French word "repaire" which refers to a refuge for animals. But it possibly could mean "sanctuary" also.

Charles Henry said...

Thanks for the clarification, Tiberge, I kept thinking "repère" meant "shelter"; no wonder that sentence didn't seem to make sense! I'll adjust my translation accordingly.

This stand by the firefighter and police forces is something we've speculated about at our weekly meetings, back in the early spring: the deep frustrations that the "front line troops" in France must be feeling towards the ongoing street war. These firefighters and CRS troops must have families, and relatives, and neighbors, all getting an earful of their first-hand accounts of the street car-nage. How much of a voting block is this amounting to, we wonder.

Would you say that urban France is generally sympathetic to its forces of law and order?

dag said...

"Would you say that urban France is generally sympathetic to its forces of law and order?"

That's a question I want an answer to. That will tell us more than any number of truths we will never get from le monde of the dhimmis.

tiberge said...

To dag and charles

I want an answer too! I am not in France, and I can only cobble together notions drawn from these websites. First, I'll state the obvious: the patriots stand by their police, but they want the police to be tougher. The more you move to the left, the more ambiguous it becomes. During the March riots, many left-wing kids were beaten to a pulp by thugs. They did not hesitate to thank the police who helped them, but left-wing organizations countered that spontaneous outburst of gratitude with official statements sympathizing with the black gangs who did the violence.

I'm sure you are aware that all police matters are directed by Sarkozy's ministry. Comments at the websites inform me that the police are terrorized themselves by the fear of making an error. They have strict orders to treat the thugs gently. This has been true for years, but it became obvious to everyone during the recent spate of riots.

Now, what is the average Frenchman to think? Does he say to himself, "these police are a bunch of cowards unworthy of my respect", or does he say, "these terrified policemen can't do their job because of that s.o.b. Sarkozy"? I don't have an answer. It depends on the level of sophistication in his thinking. If you press me for an answer, then, I would say that the police are supported by the vast majority of the people, who know or sense that the police are under tremendous pressure not to hurt anyone.

Remember when the NY City police made a couple of blunders - it made world-wide headlines, even though they were doing a great job of reducing crime under Giuliani's leadership. One slip and you're dead. While Rudy stood by his men, Sarkozy does not.

Have you seen photos of the riots? of course you have - do the police have guns?? I haven't seen any. If they have them, they certainly don't use them. It seems to me that the police are on the defensive.

Would the French, in their current state of moral weakness, defend their cops in the event of massive riots in which the police really did kill large numbers of rioters? I don't think so.

But you cannot ask policemen to do the job of soldiers. If something really big happened the army would be called in perhaps. Would they be allowed to kill? And would the people support them? If it came to that I feel most people would support them so long as they knew the army was on the side of the French people and not the enemies of France.

Here is an anecdote from FE. A reader writes:

"Each evening when I come home from work I go by the gendarmes who control traffic at an intersection. I noticed that they only stop ethnic Frenchmen, even though they're in a neighborhood where young Arabs often whiz by in expensive cars, no seat belt, music blaring, and they go through red lights. This discrimination was so systematic that I finally asked these gendarmes what the reason was, and they answered, embarrassed, that if they arrested one of those "young persons", they would be risking their life and the life of their family, and that the orders "not to provoke" came from "the top". During our discussion several "young persons" sped by as I described, all Arabs, none was arrested. When people told me during the riots that the police had incredible orders to do as little as possible, I did not believe it. I do now."

So I'll say it again. Yes, they support them. But except for realistic patriots, they don't want them to kill anyone. This pent-up frustration that both the populace and the police must feel may really explode one day. Or, the populace will be so broken and the spirit of the country so shattered, that violence will be superfluous. The country will have been destroyed from within, as in the last days of Rome or the last days of Constantinople.

Question: Even if the populace supports the police and wants them to be free to do their job, what does it matter if the government does not support them?