NOTE: The prefect has imposed a curfew on minors from 10pm to 6am until
Monday, in effect in the eleven municipalities in this department: Lyon, Bron,
Givors, Meyzieu, Rillieux-la-Pape, Saint-Fons, Saint-Priest, Vaulx-en-Velin,
Vénissieux, Villeurbanne and Villefranche-sur-Saône.
This Saturday November 12th, around 5pm, there were confrontations between
police and young people at Bellecour Place [in Lyons]. Rocks and garbage
cans versus tear gas. Some shops suffered minor damage. Many businesses had
closed earlier than usual. Eleven people were arrested, and nine were kept
According to “Associated Press” : Confrontations took place Saturday
afternoon at Bellecour Place in the heart of Lyon, between young people
and police who used tear gas, according to the Rhône prefecture.
Eleven people were arrested, and nine kept in custody, according to the
prefecture, which also noted that “there was some minor damage done to some
The confrontation was over by 6:15pm, according to the prefecture. The
police force was redeployed across the entire city of Lyon. The young people
had arrived in groups via the metro, according to the prefecture.
Jérémie Paris, a 21-year old who works in the McDonalds in
front of Bellecour Place descrtibed how thirty or so young people were sitting
on the terrace outside the McDonalds when there was suddenly a cloud of
smoke. That’s when everything started. “Chairs were flying” on the terrace.
“People were panicking, they took shelter inside the restaurant, and we
closed the doors.”
The young man was able to see youths throwing stones at the police, and
saw the police beating one young person with their billy clubs. A cartridge,
apparently from an air gun, was found close by the restaurant. (extract)
An eyewitness account:
What went on at Bellecour Place looked a lot like police provocation.
At 4:30pm, Barre street was completely closed off, the metro was closed
(how can one arrive by metro if it is closed?). The CRS [riot squad] stayed
in a defensive position for over one and a half hours. In a square formation
with their shields up, they were facing a crowd coming down des Cordeliers
towards de Perrache.
In such a surreal situation, the CRS must have known what would happen.
More and more people came to see what was going on. And already we could guess
what would happen later.
The police were positioned in such a way so as to raise the level of tension.
Apart from Barre street that was cut off to all traffic, it was easy to
get around them by taking side streets or crossing the FNAC, which is not
the case when there is a real threat and they completely close off Bellecour
They chose two particularly tense points – the metro strations at Bellecour
and Cordeliers – which is where people were going to take the metro, only
to find them closed. Add to that a few soda pop cans that are thrown somewhat
half-heartedly, and some students calling out insults, and you get a mini
Some teenagers who were in the area decided to play the tough guys by shouting
out “it’s war,” scaring away mothers pushing their baby carriages. It certainly
is easy to make a riot. Luckily there are young people to make us laugh!
Another eyewitness said that at about 3pm Barre street was completely
closed off to traffic by an army of police. They parked a number of cars
with mirrored windows in the area. At that point everything was absolutely
calm and nothing out of the ordinary was going on, so nobody could understand
why the police were taking up positions like this. Around 5pm, people of
different ages approached the police to ask them what was going on; they
were shoved and pushed around a little bit by the police. Then at that point
the tear gas was fired.
Another eyewitness claims to have seen a group of a dozen or so plainclothes
officers wearing ski-masks, helmets and flashballs leaving the police ranks
of Barre street and running after young people at Bellecour Place, down
side streets, scaring the hell out of everyone. This is how several young
people came to be violently arrested.
NOTE: On “Soir 3” [a television show] Saturday night, a reporter stated
that Sarkozy had said that “the unrest in Lyons in the work of anarchists!”
This is not even true, as they were all at the 20 year anniversary party of
the Lyon CNT at the time.
Please note that the above text about yesterday’s
“riot” in Lyon comes from the Rebellyon.info website – Lyon’s “alternative information
site” – and was translated by yours truly. I have a “fast and loose” translation
philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and
the original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the
meaning stays the same. The original
document can be seen in French.
This originally came from my blog - Sketchy Thoughts
- and is one of a number of pieces i wrote or translated regarding the riots
that rocked France in October and November 2005. To see the a complete list
of such posts, i suggest you check out the 2005 Riots In France page on the Kersplebedeb