This Figaro article describes the violence in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. It begins with a description by Didier of his ordeal:
“I met a couple in a tony bar in the Oberkampf neighborhood. The girl was a pretty brunette, his head was shaved. We got on well, had a vodka, then they invited me to take a ride in their car to have another drink somewhere else. From there on it’s a black hole, until I realized that several guys were pulling me out of the trunk (“habitacle”) and punching and kicking me…”
His face swollen, his eyes black and blue, a broken knee…his memory vanished: he had been drugged with opiates. “A typically brutal assault” was the resigned judgment of the judiciary police.
Note: Didier may have asked for it, but that is not true of all victims. In a situation of rampant crime, there are always some fools who seem unaware of the dangers. I’m not saying he deserved it, I’m saying he let himself open to it.
Since January 2006…no fewer than 1100 persons have filed a complaint of physical violence merely in the 11th arrondissement. Almost 450 victims have been attacked for no reason, or 17% more than last year. The other 650 were attacked, then robbed of their belongings by gangs.
“The 11th arrondissement, the most densely populated in Paris, contains almost 1500 “License IV” establishments. (This refers to the level of liquor license)…Alcohol starts its ravages on Thursday night. Many of those arrested spend time in a detoxification cell before being sent before the judge. Here, almost a third of the crimes reported are of a violent nature,” says Commissioner Jean-Loup Chaluleau…
At the beginning of the summer, the local neighborhood police forces dismantled a gang of young thugs who had accumulated 17 extremely violent assaults in an area of one square kilometer, approximatively… Since October, a new wave of 35 barbaric acts, committed in the lobbies of apartment buildings, have been reported.
The police data speak volumes. According to the circumstances the perpetrators, from 3 to 7 in number, concealed by hoods, from the ranks of the immigrants (“issus de l’immigration”), aged 14 to 16, about 6 feet tall, “seize the victim’s head and deliver knee-kicks,” “grab him by the hair, then punch him,” “seize him by the throat and strangle him with their arm.” The victims, of both sexes, are between 15 and 75 years old. “If they obey without a word, they may receive just a slap…Sometimes, the gang continues to deliver volleys of punches even when the theft has been completed…”
The assailants work barehanded, sometimes brandishing a knife or a paper cutter. Their booty, often trivial, comes down to a cell phone, and iPod or a credit card. Lieutenant Olivier Barge of the crime squad admits, “Muggings are among the most difficult crimes to clarify…By definition, the victims robbed of their cell phone cannot call us. Furthermore, attacks committed behind an entry door make it difficult to catch them in the act.”
Finally, the victims are so shocked that they give confused descriptions of their attackers who act swiftly in the space of 30 seconds and disappear into a subway station. “It’s like hunting for a gust of wind” laments one officer…Recently a mother was knocked to the ground by two unidentified persons. Her head struck the curb. She began to vomit, and developed a hematoma of the brain. She underwent emergency brain surgery at Saint-Antoine hospital. At 27, she almost lost her life for 30 euros.
Note: my map reminds me that the 11th arrondissement lies between Place de la République, Place de la Bastille, la Nation, and the Père Lachaise cemetery. I only remember it as being working-class, a bit depressing, but nothing like what is described above. Père Lachaise (actually in the 20th arrondissement) was one of my favorite spots in Paris.
The photo is from the anti-CPE riots last year. I cannot provide a link.