Spontaneous Riot at Gare du Nord


On Tuesday 27th of March 2007, at nearly 16:30, an "ordinary" ticket inspection at "Gare du Nord" train station turned into a riot that would last until late in the evening. Witnesses said that a 33 year old man ("sans-papier" according to mainstream media reports) and/or a 15 year old boy tried to flee from the ticket inspectors but were violently held.

The bullying behavior of the inspectors inspired many travellers to attempt to support those being held. The police reinforcements were called but the people supporting those arrested also called for reinforcements.

Contrary to the laissez-faireism and resignation usually seen in suchsituations, many metropolitan users disobeyed calls to "move along" and avoid being involved, instead there was a defiant uprising.

The wave of police force that followed "accompanied by teargas and flashball" only emphasized this spontaneous burst of rage. Several hundred people (200 to 400, depending on witnesses) fought the cops in the basement of the train station and in the connected metropolitan station for eight hours into the night.

People shouting "Sarkozy, fils de pute !", "Police partout, justice nulle part !" or "A bas, l'Etat, les flics et les patrons !" (TN: "Sarkozy, son of a bitch!", "Police everywhere, justice nowhere!", "Shutdown the State, the cops and the bosses").

The station was wrecked during the battle, with many advertising panels destroyed (in particular an advert for newspaper "L'Express" displaying Sarkozy on the cover).

[Note: Sarkozy is the main right-wing candidate for the next presidential election, he was the minister of police and interior security during autumn 2005 riots and during the spring 2006 anti-CPE movement.]

Just like for the uprising of autumn 2005, some media and politicians responded yet again with racist speeches, "ethnicising" the riot, but the rioters, though they were young, were of every color!

No doubt many were people who suffer continuous inspections and pains of Paris suburbs: it was a popular riot!

IMC Paris: 8 heures d'émeutes et affontements (fr) | 23h15 - 00h45 (fr) | witness report (fr) | Emeute (fr) | la police veille au grain (fr) | Witness report by a Native of the Republic (fr) | A ticket check is never ordinary (fr) | Photos: IMC Paris | newspaper "20 minutes" | outside the station around 23:30 | newspaper "Le Monde" | Flash videos - see gnash and gnash-dev: Independent videos (mobile phone): Facing the cops | "Sarko, fils de pute" [Sarko, son of a bitch] | After the teargas... | AFP

Extract from a testimony published on Indymedia-Paris:

"From what could be seen around 10pm, one could suspect that there had been some unrest... The lingering tear gas scent did not manage to scatter the small groups. We learn that a "Foot Locker" shoe store was smashed and plundered a little earlier. Other stores and furniture were also attacked. Comments were written on the walls in permanent marker. One-way monitoring videocams were disconnected, and some "360° black bowl" cameras were simply destroyed. Large flower pots (50 cm diameter) were thrown from the ground floor to the 2nd basement, presumably on the cops... A SNCF "welcome and information" desk is smashed, its computers and other machines extracted and burst on the ground by gleeful girls. Sporadic charges, retreat and reformation of the small groups of rioters... Tense confrontation for almost 5 hours.

The police force, although numerous (around 300 cops overall), hardly manages to pacify the station. They hesitate between a direct onslaught and the requirement not to completely cut the traffic [subway lines 4 and 5 were stopped or required not to stop in Gare du Nord, as well as the RER lines B and D, but not SNCF suburban train lines]. Plenty of new travellers arrive every 5 minutes, which shuffles the crowd each time: new outraged travellers stop, stagnate, insult the cops, like this kindly-looking black man in a suit who pelts them with stuff while insulting them... The surroundings are not easy to control for the cops. The situation is not that good for the rebels either, though: a feeling of being stuck in a concrete block with cops everywhere, journalists everywhere with their fucking cameras, monitoring cams on all floors... A cop passes by carrying one of his colleagues - in a sorry state - on his back! A (tiny) fire that was started requires the firemen's intervention! The cops seem to have instructions to retake the ground rather than to make prisoners - case in point: they catch ten persons during a charge, shackling them and kicking them in the ribs, then release them when ordered to by a sergeant (or some other officer) who explains that they are here to charge, not to arrest people.

The cops gradually manage to retake all basement floors, finally succeeding in chasing everyone from the station towards the plaza in front of it. Charge. Around fifty people decide to block the intersection between Faubourg Saint-Denis and Lafayette street. A bus is blocked. A few minutes of pondering if it should be smashed or not, then it finally pulls away. Meanwhile, a "pétroleuse" finds a broken sofa, pushes it in the middle of the crossroads and lights it on fire. The small burning roadblock is quickly strengthened with doors and other wooden boards found in the vicinity. A lone police car comes by. It barely escapes the wrath of the small crowd which chases it with a little delay. Cop reinforcements arrive: ten vans pull up at full throttle. The last rebels flee to a small street, build up a small roadblock out of construction site equipment. A car full of civilians turns from another street and passes at full speed spraying gas from a window. Escape towards Gare de l'Est. End of the spree... Apparently.

At least nine people were detained... They were probably brought to the police station at Riquet street (19th arondissement) or in 10th arrondissement."

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Déjà des condamnations...

kyi 30.Mar.2007 22:02

D'après la presse mainstream, il y a déjà huit personnes en prison suite aux affrontements de la gare du Nord.

Selon une dépêche de l'agence Reuters, un jeune homme de 23 ans a été condamné, en comparution immédiate, à 6 mois de prison ferme (et un an de sursis), "pour sa participation aux violences de la gare du Nord mardi soir à Paris".

Celui-ci a été reconnu coupable de "violences sur agents de la force publique" pour avoir jeté en direction de policiers d'une hauteur de 12 mètres une jardinière pesant plus de 40 kg.

Dans la nuit de jeudi à vendredi, deux autres participants aux émeutes de la gare du Nord avaient été condamnés à quatre mois de prison ferme chacun.

Ces deux hommes, un Malien et un Congolais, ont été reconnus coupables d'avoir jeté des projectiles - pour l'un une bouteille vide, pour l'autre un objet métallique - en direction des forces de l'ordre. Le Malien a été interdit du territoire français pour trois ans.

On notera la justice raciste de ce pays, puisque les deux étrangers - noirs - ont à peu près la même peine que celui qui est reconnu coupable de faits qui auraient très bien pu tuer un flic... Alors tant mieux pour le jeune blanc, Français, s'il n'a pas pris une peine plus lourde. Mais les deux étrangers ont pris cher pour pas grand-chose ! Avec double-peine à la clé pour l'un d'eux, cela va de soi...

Dans les tribunaux, le racisme est à la fois informel et institutionnel. Normal...

Jouer contre son camp

esteban 02.Apr.2007 17:48

Plus les zyvas agissent de la sorte et plus ils justifient la peur des racailles qu'ils sont, et font ainsi monter le FN et sarkozy.

Avec ce type d'agissement le vote securitaire est parfaitement justifé.
Je me désole de voir que sur indymedia on confonde encore ces malfrats avec des rebelles. Surement les restes d'une vielle admiration du petit bourgeois lache devant le voleur.

Les auteurs de ses actes sont les moins rebelles de tous, non seulement ils justifient la politique securitaire à la sarkozy, mais en plus ils sont les meilleurs soldats du consummerisme ambiant. Aucune conscience politique, aucun poids, ils ne font que jouer contre leur camps.

La Chapelle is always crazy, sorry

Neil Sorensen 03.Apr.2007 11:51

I go through Gare de Nord frequently, and I was there on Wednesday evening. I noticed an unusually large police presence, and I hadn't heard about what had happened. I also noticed that almost every young person I saw jumped over the turnstyles without paying, which is not entirely unusual, but the kids were being extremely bold.

Gare de Nord is nearly always full of young people, many poor, hanging out. Just a few weeks ago I watched a great breakdown, which I hadn't seen since I participated in breakdwowns during my youth in the early 80's.

I know French police can be pretty harsh, but not nearly as bad as in the US. I'm not defending the police for mistreating anyone, and certainly we have a right to react strongly to police brutality. On the other hand, there are a lot of thugs in La Chapelle and in the basement of Gare de Nord in particular - always, really quite brutal youngsters that rob an intimidate people all the time, and these are the kids that started the riot. I sometimes think they can't wait for an excuse to cause as much mayhem as possible and destroy public infrastructure. Of all the places I go in Paris, and I must preface like la Chapelle a lot, not least because there's a big Sri Lankan neighborhood there with great food, I feel subject to attack or getting ripped off there more than anywhere in Paris, and unfortunately the enormous police presence at this train station is necessary, otherwise people would get mugged constantly.