One of the stolen cars used by rioters as a barricade against police last night in a stand-off in Amiens, northern France – recently declared by the government as one of the most troubled areas in the country. Fire-fighters still damping down areas caught up in the melee. A showdown between local youths, around 100 of them, and 150 local police officers lasted all night: from 9pm till at least 4am on the streets. 16 officers were hurt. No-one was arrested.
The Mayor of Amiens admitted there’ve been tensions between the police and poorer residents for weeks, between people he said who ‘are in some difficulty’. Rumours that a violent stop and search at the weekend may have caused things to kick off seems to have an element of truth according to some local people.
"It's also because the police are provoking them. The youths are quiet here and the police provoke them so now these youths are causing trouble."
A school and youth centre fell victims to the fighting. These buildings were gutted by fires started by the rioters, who were venting weeks of pent up anger and frustration. Charred books and equipment lying all over the place. And what’s happened has also left the community angry.
"Those who did that, I suppose that they'll get severely punished, because this is nonsense. Where will the associations which benefited from the building go?"
The government pledged more money and police as well as plans for improvements in housing and to offer a wider range of services. That will be one of the first big tests for President Francoise Hollande to ensure those promises are kept and the issues in the area peacefully resolved under his new socialist order. All so that this incident, which has distinct echoes of the Paris riots of 2005, isn’t the start of history repeating itself.