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!