France ‘copes with’ Grenoble
Aurelie Noubissi (2nd L), the mother of Kevin, and Messaouda Tadbirt (C), the mother of Sofiane, release doves as they participate in a silent ‘White March’ to honor the two men in Echirolles. AFP photoFrench police have arrested 10 suspects over the killing of two students lynched by a mob armed with hammers, baseball bats and knives.
The killings on Sept. 28 in the Echirolles suburb of Grenoble sparked outrage in France and prompted President François Hollande to travel to the southeastern city late Oct. 1 to visit the families of the dead young men. Hollande was accosted as he visited the poor suburb by a local resident who lambasted security forces for failing to stop the violence she said was plaguing the area. Interior Minister Manuel Valls also traveled to the city and denounced what he called a “massacre,” vowing that the killers would be tracked down.
“Things have to change in Grenoble and Echirolles. This is like Texas. Where are we, Mr. President?” a woman shouted at Hollande. “They have a right to security; that is what I am bringing to them.
Security, justice and success!” responded Hollande, accompanied by Valls.
Another resident yelled down from her window to Hollande that violence was plaguing the area and authorities were failing to act. “They can’t be allowed to have died for nothing.” Hollande replied, “They won’t have died for nothing.” Three suspects, who have all been convicted for violent crimes, are still on the run, prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told reporters.
Kevin Noubissi and Sofiane Tadburt, both aged 21, were beaten and stabbed to death by a gang of about a dozen people in a park.
The gang was reportedly seeking vengeance after a minor incident outside a high school involving Noubissi’s younger brother. Most of those arrested in Grenoble were aged between 18 and 21, and most have criminal records, officials said. Thousands of locals held a commemorative march in the suburb on Oct. 2 to honor the two men, who were said by their friends and families to be model students.
According to The Guardian, neighbors said the two men had a reputation as mediators in the suburbs of Grenoble, where crime, unemployment and rivalry between tower-blocks are rife. Hollande’s visit sparked memories of Sarkozy’s 2010 reaction to three nights of violent clashes between police and armed rioters in the same area of Grenoble’s outskirts after police shot a robbery suspect in a chase.
Sarkozy visited Grenoble and made one of his most-criticized security speeches, pledging to strip foreign-born individuals of their French nationality if they attacked police or officials.
“There has been some improvement in terms of urban violence since 2010,” said Daniel Chomette, head of the regional branch of the French police union. “But then this improvement has not been felt in terms of the black market prevalent in these suburbs,” he told Agence France-Presse.
“Police reinforcements have not been able to deal with the illegal trade.” “It’s important to understand that in these suburbs, many people live a hand-to-mouth existence, they are under-qualified and disenfranchised from the job market.”