27th November 2008

It is now one year since the traffic accident that cost the lives of two teenagers when their motorbike collided with a police car in a place called Villiers-le-Bel, a suburb of Paris. Amazingly, the protests that followed it are still going strong now. I still remember all the unrest that followed, when a hundred police officers were injured and several shops and buildings were burned. Six inquiries have been launched into the incident but to date none have been concluded. As in all countries, the judiciary moves at only one pace: dead slow.
But the interesting point for me was how, on the one hand, the poor families of the deceased seek to justify that their children should have been left alone to do whatever criminal action they wished, whilst on the other hand, the police seek to justify that they are above the law and can do as they please on the roads. "The police car, which was traveling without warning lights or signal and above the legal speed limit, could have posed a danger to anyone", said Jean-Pierre Mignard, the lawyer for the victims' families. Well, yes. Lawyers seem to be able to say or do anything in our courts, displaying a marked abililty for acting and obfuscation - in fact, anything that promotes their cause and bank balance, irrespective of whether real justice is seen to be performed.
In the year since the incident, the state has contributed 6.4 million euros to reconstructing a school and a library that were damaged in the unrest. The destoyed Louis-Jouvet library has now been replaced by a new one, the Aimé-Césaire, which opened in September.
And in the future? Will anything change between anarchic young people, hapless keystone cops, and money-grabbing lawyers? On verra. We'll see, but I doubt it.

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