Thoughtlessly, with surprising absent-mindedness

Funny how often the alternative media gets a story right before the rest of the world catches on.

More than a year ago, I was outraged to hear on Democracy Now how a couple of Parisian teens were chased to a horrible death by electrocution at a transformer station in a festering suburb.

And now, the Beeb reports what the authorities long denied. Namely, that Democracy Now’s eyewitnesses, cultural observers, and local sources were dead right.

An internal report by the French police has confirmed that police were chasing two youths whose deaths sparked riots across the country, a lawyer said.

Jean-Pierre Mignard, who is representing the boys’ families, said the report criticised officers for failing to prevent their deaths.

Teenagers Bouna Traore and Zyed Benna were electrocuted at a sub-station in a Paris suburb in October 2005.

Their deaths triggered three weeks of violence in suburbs across France.

Mr Mignard said the report, by the police investigation service IGS, found officers had behaved “thoughtlessly, with surprising absent-mindedness”.

The report confirmed – based on radio exchanges at the time – that police chased the boys into the electricity sub-station in Clichy-sous-Bois, something police had initially denied.

It said officers took no action to ensure the boys’ safety in the site – including alerting power provider Electricite de France, although it says that this might not necessarily have saved their lives.


During the clashes – between youths of mainly North African origin and police – more than 10,000 cars were set ablaze and 300 buildings firebombed.

This also confirms something else which Democracy Now covered before anyone else did (and the Beeb has yet to plainly iterate): that racism is endemic in post-colonial French society, and so is prejudice. And so, for that matter, is police incompetence and brutality–especially in light of how community policing was abolished by the anti-immigrant Nikolas Sarkozy (who is now contemplating a run for the presidency, God help us all). To say they acted “thoughtlessly, with surprising absent-mindedness” is surely the understatement of the year.

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