Thursday, March 23, 2006

France Demos : Casseurs and the CRS

The MSM coverage of the demonstrations in France is becoming increasingly sensationalist. CNN is now treating 3 burning cars as Breaking News and in typical fashion that's the lead story. When I was watching the French news channels tonight there was a lot of coverage of today's event but interestingly France 2 news made an important distinction between the Students and the "casseurs" or unruly elements. These demonstrations are also riddled with plain-clothes cops and there is often a contingent of right-wing bruisers out looking for fight.

Today the "casseurs" are generally ascribed as being from the banlieues; the ghetto kids who were at the forefront of the November uprising. For them the anti-CPE demonstrations are just another opportunity for biting shit with the cops and maybe getting away with some vandalism and petty crime. The whole CPE issue, and I think they realize this, is not their fight because the majority of them aren't going to get any job offers coming their way any time soon. The CPE just makes them think that the system is even more pointless and rioting is a good kick. That would just be a small minority of kids from the banlieues though, there are plenty who are joining the marches because they are still angry and frustrated by the events of November and now the CPE is yet another law targeting them.

I reckon that everything we saw in November is starting to come through again and don't forget the November uprising didn't end because everyone was happy but rather that the State of Emergency and cold weather took care of things for the government. That anger hasn't gone away - it was just repressed for the winter. The situation is very fluid at the moment and the confrontations with cops are going to continue. It gives the demonstrations a bad spin but that's what CNN thinks makes for good TV.

The cops on the other hand are another story altogether. France 2 had visuals of plain-clothes cops climbing into people with batons and that is creepy because they were probably in the march earlier. Police provocation is also part of the mix and the forces of "law & order" have been relying on heavy handed tactics since the Storming of the Sorbonne. The worst are the CRS (Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité) though. Now I've had enough encounters with riots cops to know that I don't like these motherfuckers. The SAP (South African Police) riots cops were much worse; they didn''t have the RoboCop exoskeletons but did have live ammunition. Its a good thing that these CRS dudes don't fire rubber bullets and that they haven't studied the fine art of sjambokking. Give these blokes half a chance though...

Image courtesy of libcom.org

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