Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attack by the Awful A's

La Nouvelle République (my local paper) featured six articles today voicing its fears about the 'extreme left' in Tours. 'Antis, Anarchists, Activists... they're taking over the streets.' Interesting alliterative grouping there. (Antis, Anarchists, Activists- what will YOU choose?) One gets the feeling that the rather bourgeois, comfortable department of Indre-et-Loire was trying to ignore various groups of disaffected youth and has been called to attention- literally while enjoying a coffee en terrace in Place Plume. (Since I've been in this town I've noticed a rift between wealthy and not-so-wealthy that has none of the disparity of a city like London. On Saturdays, middle-aged women in fur coats do their shopping at the Galleries Lafayette whilst appearing completely oblivious to young people begging and bumming fags. I had long assumed there were a lot of squats in Tours. It seems that suddenly they are a threat to our comfortable, middle-class town life.) Tolerated while all they do is beg, all of a sudden they are dangerous. In a country with such a high youth unemployment rate, isn't it fairly natural that some people choose to 'opt out' as much as they possibly can? Even where insecure housing and begging for a living is a choice? Well, everyone's been rushing to put in their two-centimes-worth about Saturday's events. The departmental Prefet made a speech in which he deplored the fact that 'Voyous and SDF' (hooligans and homeless people) were encouraged to join in what 'may have' started out as a genuine party. Since a lot of homeless people tend to beg on the corner of the square where the police started gassing people up, I'm not fully convinced they are guilty for this involvement. As for hooligans, one assumes they were paying customers in the bars until the police forced the bars to close early. In a lot of interviews with bar managers, all that most of them seem to be upset about is the early closure and consequential financial loss, which came after police intervention and not as a direct result of the party. The police, on the other hand, are trying to get to the 'instigators' of the party. A chap who created a facebook group after the event, 'If you, too, felt like you were in Baghdad on Saturday 7th March in Tours!' has been asked to cooperate with the local police in moderating his group so no one can organise a repetition. Even more cooperative are Facebook themselves, who are helpfully delving into archived records of the original facebook event to give the police names and details of the organisers. Thinking back, a couple of things strike me. One- the police have been pretty well-behaved since the beginning of the university strikes here, but already last Thursday at our march they were out in riot gear for the first time this year. I think they may have judged the time was right to cut down on the Mr Nice Guy stuff... you know what the police can be like- 'Yeah, we've been really tolerant for ages. Now we can do what we like, right? We don't need an excuse!'. Except that Saturday furnished them with the excuse. Two- Within the legitimate strike movement at the University, people have been sensible enough not to enter into debate about Saturday. However, given that a lot of the ridiculously overblown reactions are aimed not at us, the students, but at a different group altogether -hooligans and homeless people- (I think there's some racism involved as well, as poor people in Tours are decidedly more ethnically-mixed than students here) maybe we should think about a bit more solidarity here. After London, this town can be annoyingly petty-bourgeois, complacent and bigoted. And although if I were ever to encourage rebellion I probably would not do it on this blog, it does occur to me sometimes that it would not be that difficult to bring Tours to its knees. (More on actual university strikes soon, I thought I wouldn't mix the two issues.)


weierstrass said...

this is all you need to know about using facebook to organise your radical political happenings.

abdeslam said...

tu voudrais pas devenir journaliste à la NR????? merci pour cet excellent article!!!!

problemshelved said...

Merci à toi- c'est très gentil!