Visit Nanterre to get a comprehensive overview of the French crisis that is about to explode. However, you are advised to keep your head down if you work as a journalist.
A person approaches a group of young men outside the who are some bearded and one who has a bodybuilder-like build. Le 35. Upon entering the café, I am met with an aggressive swearing fit and a warning finger.
Women in Islamic headscarves yell insults at police and the media from passing cars near the scene where police shot and killed a 17-year-old boy of Algerian descent last Tuesday.
It is possible to catch glimpses of the most disastrous few days by sneaking through the streets without a camera or notebook, past burned-out cars, and smashed buildings.
On a bench outside their apartment building, Lucille, Marie, and Jeanne, three middle-aged white women, are conversing with a black male friend. Like many other apartment buildings in Nanterre, the area is spotless and surrounded by gardens.
They are happy to talk but do not want their children to be photographed out of fear that they will be recognized and targeted.
"The past three evenings have been horrible. It's chaos outside our windows between midnight and four in the morning. Sleeping is impossible for anyone. Lucille declares, "I feel as though I'm on another planet.
Do they possibly not think that the rioters' anger is understandable given that one of Nanterre's young residents, Nahel, was killed by a police bullet during a checkpoint?
"This rioting is not related to what occurred. Obviously, the child shouldn't have perished. When kids are leaving for school at eight in the morning, what was he doing joyriding without a license?
One cop, one bullet is written in graffiti on a bus shelter that has been destroyed, as seen by Marie.
"You can see what it says there: I completely disagree. The police are not racial, in my opinion. Every group of people consists of both good and bad people, she asserts.
The mother of the deceased adolescent, Mounia, who participated in a Thursday mass march in Nahel's honor, is not given much consideration.
"It was improper what she was doing on that open-top van in the march. It wasn't a march of mourning, that. She has a political agenda. Everyone else concurs by nodding. .
"The boy had no notable accomplishments. simply for being an idiot. " .
There is a plane tree-lined avenue nearby called Georges Clemenceau Avenue. préfet. The Hauts-de-Seine department head has arrived to inspect the charred remains of the neighborhood tax office's front. He calls it "lamentable, deplorable.".
Upper-floor windows on the structure have gaping holes due to fireworks rockets fired at the structure by rioters. Every window at street level has been broken with a powerful object. Outside the entrance, burned tax forms are strewn about.
Tax inspector Cyril, a resident of Nanterre who also declines to have his picture taken, is one of the onlookers.
He says, "I just feel wretched sadness.". The Nanterre residents are served by this tax office. They buy services with the money that is generated here. It's a completely disproportionate response, so I don't understand why you're attacking it. " .
However, Cyril asserts that he generally sympathizes with those who want to demonstrate against Tuesday's murder.
"I'm not certain if. racist. Police is accurate. Let's just say that they have a disposition. The kids in this area have all received harsh treatment, frequently because they were acting foolishly, no doubt.
Cyril says, "But look, this was a kid. The policeman was an adult. He had a weapon. Controlling the situation was his responsibility. He wasn't, either. " .
Of course, the locals who participated in the memorial march have much stronger opinions.
Like Bakari, who acknowledges the riots' unjustified nature but thinks it is understandable why some people would retaliate violently. " .
We've all had negative experiences with the police, so I wasn't shocked by Nahel's murder. Everywhere has good people and bad people, but the vast majority of police are racist. ".
Or Yasmina, who declared, "I abhor the French police. They get my very best wishes. A pervasive, racist ideology has tainted the entire system.
It's possible that Nahel is my younger brother. It absolutely astounds me that a kid like that could do something stupid like anyone else could. He wasn't worthy of dying. ".
Nanterre is not the isolated social wasteland that some would have us believe it to be. The Arc de Triomphe in the heart of Paris is two stops away from this room, which is roomy and spotless.
A short distance away are the towers of the La Défense business district.
After former President Charles de Gaulle's culture minister André Malraux, there is a theater, a university, the national opera dance academy, and a sizable park. The children's roundabout, which had been there for the previous 50 years, sadly burned down yesterday.
Two universes colliding is the overarching impression one has of the town.
On one hand, it's easy to see all the typical trappings of the benevolent French state.
Tricolors fly, the préfet arrives to survey his domain, underground Metro trains zip by, and looming towers of are all in the background. "La Defense.". Global corporations generate billions.
However, in the same area, there is another way of being that seems completely cut off from the system, is quick to detect and reflect hostility, and says. "Here, one is at home". This patch belongs to us and points the finger at unwelcome outsiders like the media.
Eric Hadj, a seasoned Paris-Match photographer, is inspecting his damaged car and gathering the paperwork for the insurance claim at a gas station close to the tax office.
"We attended the march here on Thursday. We were ordered to leave by some large men who arrived. They were very clear when they said that if we didn't, we ran the risk of something very bad. Of course, the car was completely totaled when we returned today. " .
Hadj claims that despite experiencing numerous riots throughout his life, he has never witnessed anything like this.
He claims that this is significantly worse than 2005.
Everyone in this room is remembering the last protracted riot that shook France. neighborhood slums. or suburbs for three weeks, unsure of how long the most recent unrest would continue.
Today's rioters have a significant advantage thanks to social media. But more than anything, it is more violent. It has rockets. Whatever restraint there may have been has been lifted, the photographer claims.
Gérard Collomb, a former socialist mayor of Lyon who served as President Macron's interior minister, is well known for his snappy remarks.
When he left office in 2018, he bemoaned the unsettling propensity of French society to fragment into communities, which, in his opinion, was in direct opposition to the idea of a single, unified Republic.
Today, he said, "we are coexisting.". "I'm afraid we'll be in each other's faces tomorrow. " .
In Nanterre, one face of France is competing with another.