Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The "Youths"
The "Students"
Of France

The "students" were demonstrating, and the "youths," who are thought to be from "tougher suburbs," were violently rioting:

PARIS - Rioting youths swarmed across a downtown Paris plaza, ripping up street signs and park benches and hurling stones and chunks of pavement at police at the end of the largest of massive but mostly peaceful protests Tuesday across France against a new jobs law.

Riot police fired tear gas and rubber pellets and made repeated charges into the crowds of several hundred youths at Place d'Italie on the Left Bank, carrying away those they arrested.

The clashes came as more than 1 million people poured into the streets across the country,


including 84,000 in Paris, according to police. Union organizers put the figure in the capital at 700,000 — and 3 million nationwide.

But the violence in Paris was less intense than at previous marches against the law, and the country was less affected by an accompanying national strike. As before, the Paris violence appeared to involve youths from tougher suburbs and extremists from both the far right and far left.

"It is giving them too much credit to ascribe an ideology to them. These are just hoodlums, who come to break and pillage. I'm not sure there is an ideology behind all this," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Groups of these youths attacked bystanders, news photographers and protesters, kicking and punching some. They used metal bars to break up chunks of pavement that they hurled at helmeted riot officers, who advanced behind raised shields to sweep the


square clear.

Youths also smashed store windows, bus shelters and clashed with police in Rennes, in northwest France. Store fronts, cars and telephone boxes also were damaged in Lille in the northeast.

Police said they took 383 people into custody in Paris, where 18 people also suffered slight injuries, and another 243 elsewhere in France. The violence marred another day of demonstrations against the jobs law, which would make it easier to fire young workers.

There were 268 marches nationwide, according to police. It was the second Tuesday running that unions and student groups had mobilized so many protesters, maintaining intense pressure on President Jacques Chirac's government to withdraw the measure.

Strikers again shut down the Eiffel Tower, where tourists stood bewildered before the closed gates. Parisian commuters flattened themselves onto subway trains limited by the strike. Garbage bins in some Paris neighborhoods stood overflowing and uncollected by striking sanitation workers.

Paris police stepped up their efforts to thwart troublemakers, deploying 4,000 officers Tuesday. Armed riot officers pulled over train travelers disembarking from the suburbs before the protest, searching their bags and checking identities.

The Paris march snaked from the Place de la Republique and crossed the Seine River to finish at Place d'Italie on the Left Bank.

Students backed by unions have spearheaded ever-larger marches for two months against the jobs law. Chirac signed it anyway Sunday, saying it will help France keep up with the global economy.

He offered modifications, but students and unions rejected them, saying they want the law withdrawn, not softened.

"We are really close to getting the government to give in," said Marc Dago, a high school geology teacher at the Paris march. "If we give in now, the government is going to carry out much more harmful and far-reaching reforms that will affect all workers, not just the young."

I don't know about you, but I find that article funny. Is it just me?