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Comparing the French & LA riots: Number of casualties, why?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 07:32 am
Lifting out this post on one of the Paris riots threads as a separate question, because it is mostly a digression and I don't want to import the US political discussion into a thread about France; but it is a question that made me think, and I still don't really have a conclusive answer.

nimh wrote:
Random fact of the day:

Number of people who died in the 1992 LA riots:

52.

(That's the correction given in this Francosceptic story to the "200 people" cited by French finance minister Thierry Breton, who was urging for "perspective".)

Number of people who died in the France-wide riots so far:

1.

Anyone any suggestions on how to explain the difference?

The nature of the riots? Those involved? Gun control?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 5,579 • Replies: 69
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 08:16 am
They are French.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:42 am
The (white) French don't all seem to think so...





(this is basically a "bump")
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:43 am
It's because they're Muslims.










<just joking>
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:51 am
It's 'cause the French cops are wimps!
That's why!
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:57 am
It's really a very good question, isn't it. I started digging for background info since I only remember the violence from that time and not the underlying factors. I found a wikipedia article which is informative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_L.A._Riots

Unfortunately, I don't have any really good ideas about why, but the widespread posession of firearms in LA at that time seems significant. I don't know what the gun control laws/enforement are like in Paris so it's hard to say.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:57 am
The already-existing culture of violence?

Not sure of that one. Would be curious about the crime rates, especially murder, in both areas before the riots.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 10:59 am
Or are the French rioters wimps?

I dunno... Steve just told me on the other thread that they were all not just Muslim, but organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir and singlemindedly out to establish a Caliphate in France, so ... you wouldnt think so ...
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Lash
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 11:01 am
I've wondered that, too.

The only think one can do here is make a guess.

Off the cuff, I think the LA rioters were glad to have an excuse to kill white people. The tape of the attack on Denny is what that looks like. A completely innocent guy is dragged out of his truck--he's working--and nearly killed. What was the motive?

Reginald Denny's attack was very telling. He hadn't done anything, and I'm surprised he didn't die from his wounds.

The French rioters are obviously not desiring to kill people, or they'd be doing it.

The why of both--I'd be interested to hear opinions.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 11:07 am
We can make this exercise.
French rioters vs. LA rioters... who'd win?
French cops vs. LA cops... who'd win?

I'm not sure about the first answer.
But I'm certain the LA cops would beat the crap out of the Frenchies.
"Difference of police procedures", they call it.
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Francis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 11:31 am
I'm not interested in debating but I know some figures.

For example, homicide rate is ten times higher in the USA than in France.

- As Sozobe pointed out there's a culture of non-violence in France.

- FreeDuck - Gun control is very tight in France. Only people with a special permit can have a gun and it's very hard to obtain as there has to be strong reasons for that.

- Fbaezer - LA rioters would win.

And, as an aside, media, as usual, made a story of the riots that only people outside France can believe.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 11:36 am
Thanks for that info, Francis.

I think there is probably a lot to the theory that we have a more violent culture here in general, and especially at that time in LA.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 11:53 am
My impression is that he French riots were more dispersed, the LA riots more concentrated. It may simply be a product of the probability of two violent people coming into contact or then number of violent people congregating.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 02:51 pm
fbaezer wrote:
I'm not sure about the first answer.
But I'm certain the LA cops would beat the crap out of the Frenchies.
"Difference of police procedures", they call it.

Heh. Dunno if its necessarily true, tho ... the French police, those in the suburbs I mean, are not the stuff you know from movies. At least, not those trad movies. Perhaps more like in La Haine ...

(Soundtrack La Haine, to the backdrop of sirens: "Jusqu'ici, tout va bien ... jusqu'ici, tout va bien ..." [Until now, it's still OK ... untill now, it's still OK ...]; that was in 1995. None of this comes out of nowhere.)

(Come to think of it, La Haine and other films like Bye Bye or (more playfully) Yamakasi are direct equals to Colors and Boyz N The Hood, just like French hip-hop has had as many rhetorical "cop killers" as Westcoast's gangsta rap ... perhaps the differences are smaller than you think ...)

Two recent hints:

- The newspapers' observation that the police only patrol in cars in those neighbourhoods, never by foot

(That reminded me a lot of what I heard of South Central police back then, a kind of enemy army that could keep order only through force, from above, safely ensconced and never actually talking with residents)

- This from a Reuters AlertNet report called Riots put French police under spotlight:

Quote:
But many youngsters in the suburbs complain of harsh treatment and say the police are a part of the problem. [..]

"The police were hurling insults as much as the others," said Abdel, 20, from the Paris suburb of Grigny where shots were fired between police and youths in clashes last Sunday night. [..] His brother, Bilel, 21, said he saw a policeman celebrating "like he was at a football match" after shooting a stone-throwing protestor in the leg. [..]

An independent commission that monitors police behaviour has regularly found evidence of police abuse and said in its latest report earlier this year that such abuses were rising.

It highlighted poor training, bad supervision and the inexperience of many young police, and mentioned particular problems in the Paris suburbs.

On Thursday, eight policemen were suspended after two of them beat a young man they had detained in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, and the other six looked on.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 02:55 pm
Lash wrote:
The French rioters are obviously not desiring to kill people, or they'd be doing it.

I'd like to believe that ... but some of the testimonies of the French rioting has been too harrowing for that.

Take these:

Quote:
On Wednesday night, youths firebombed a bus here with the passengers inside. As the last passenger, a 56-year-old woman, descended the steps on crutches, an assailant splashed her with gasoline and another threw a flaming rag at her. The driver put out the flames and rushed her to a hospital.


Quote:
Youths in the eastern suburban town of Meaux hurled rocks at paramedics attempting to evacuate a sick patient from a housing project, then set the waiting ambulance ablaze.


Perhaps its gun control after all? It takes a lot more effort to put someone on fire with gasoline and a flaming rug than to shoot him ...
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 03:02 pm
I suspect sane gun laws, and that there has been a lot of learning re rioting in the intervening years.


Looking at European and English coppers handling riots, they seem to have tactics that limit somewhat the spiral of violence, and to concentrate on containment. And, again, they are not often facing guns.

The miners' strike in the UK had lots of very violent confrontations between police and miners...and there was certainly bitter ill will, and it went on for months....but I do not think anyone was actually killed, for instance. (Anyone sure re this?)

They also seem to use intelligence a lot..eg in France, I understand they learned about the weapons caching the kids were doing, and were welding the stores shut in the daytime.


An interesting questing re this...were the LA riots, after the Rodney King beating, handled differently by US cops from how they handled the Watts etc riots?


The authorities might have learned a bit from Kent State, too, perhaps?
0 Replies
 
Fedral
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 03:31 pm
French Riots: 1 Dead, Unknown # injured. Government afraid to deploy troops to area for fear of 'escalating' the situation. Riot currently 18 days and counting.

L.A. Riots: 38 people dead, 1250 people injuried. 4000 Army and Marines deployed into city with orders to 'Return fire if fired upon.' Riot quelled in 3 days.


I thing it has more to do with the local government having the guts to re establish authority and let the rioters know that their actions are not acceptable and that they MUST obey the laws of the land.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 03:41 pm
fbaezer wrote:
But I'm certain the LA cops would beat the crap out of the Frenchies.
"Difference of police procedures", they call it.


French television showed images of two officers hitting and kicking a young man while six colleagues stood by watching in the northern Paris suburb of La Courneuve last week, on Monday.

One officer is being held in detention while four others are also under formal investigation.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 03:53 pm
Allowing the riots to continue for 18 days IMO is inexcusable. It and tells those who would riot they can do so almost with immunity. If the police could not quell the riots the military should have been called in and take whatever action required..
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Nov, 2005 03:54 pm
Francis wrote:
And, as an aside, media, as usual, made a story of the riots that only people outside France can believe.

On the other hand, some of the stuff you hear (white, middle class) French people saying in interviews makes one suspect that the people in downtown Paris and other nicer sides of town are further removed from whats going on in these suburbs than some people in the UK, Holland or Germany..

I mean, seriously. One (admittedly) foreign news agency dramatically waxed that:

Quote:
Nearly three weeks of unrest have jolted France from its dream of living in a colorblind, egalitarian society and forced leaders and intellectuals to grapple with the marginalization of the country's predominantly Muslim North African minorities.

They can't be serious. Any Frenchman who was only now "awakened" from a dream of colorblind egality must have willfully ignored a decade (or two) of glaring signs. I mean, none of this is new. There's been riots before. The resentful, perspectiveless chagrin of the pooresty banlieue has been described often enough, in reportage, by activists, and in films, literature, hip-hop.

But then, it seems to have always remained terra incognita for the gentle folk. Which I suppose is easier to accomplish if your ghettoes are actually even spatially separated in distant satellite towns, rather than bordering the inner city like in the UK or Belgium. And the intellectual newspapers apparently dont exactly confront their civil-minded readers with the unpleasantnesses of these distant poor either.

I mean, I was kind of shocked. My father was here two weeks ago, and he reads Le Monde every day, one of the two or three major French newspapers. To my amazement, he was blisfully unaware of what was going on. Trying to figure out how come, we browsed through the Monde of the day. This was after the second or third night of rioting, when again something like a thousand cars went up in flames. We looked down the frontpage - nothing (but some weighty human rights matter in a foreign country). To page two, four, six. Nothing. The first article on the riot was on page eight or so, bottom half. My father hadnt noticed it.

Le Monde, you see, is a newspaper of standard. It apparently devotes pages two to seven (?) to foreign news. The petty home issues are relegated to subsequent pages. Plus ... hey, they probably dont have many readers in Paris Saint-Denis, anyway...

Its probably true that from abroad, you get to look at the unrest through a magnifying glass, that outsizes everything to the extreme (Gary Younge did point out that on an average New Years Eve in France 400 cars get burnt out as well). But perhaps the nice, kind and gentle French who live downtown or in pleasant settlements, have also just kind of managed to "not see" whats going on in the poor banlieues. Chirac said it: the media doesn't include the reality of these outsiders. They dont seem to count. They feel they're not seen, or acknowledged. Looks like they got a point.
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