By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A tense calm returned to the outskirts of Paris after four days of riots exacerbated by the anger of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown and police measures in France. Crowds of youths targeted riot police with fireworks and torched rubbish bins amid rising tensions. The violence began Saturday after a motorcyclist was seriously injured in Villeneuve-La-Garenne in a confrontation with police.
The rider hit the open door of an unmarked police car and required surgery to his leg, witnesses said. Some local residents alleged that officers deliberately opened the door into his path. Police pledged that an investigation is underway. Outrage over the incident came amid broader frustration over the enforced coronavirus lockdown and perceived heavy-handed policing in the low-income high-rise Paris suburbs. The areas, known as banlieues, are frequent flashpoints of anger over social and economic inequality. Unrest was also reported in the neighboring districts of Gennevilliers, Clichy-La-Garenne, and Asnieres.
Fifteen years ago, the death of two youths fleeing police in a northern Paris suburb triggered nationwide riots that lasted three weeks."It's taking a turn that reminds me of 2005," said Yves Lefebvre, head of France's biggest police union, SGP Unite in published remarks."What I fear is that it will explode in the banlieues. It may get very difficult."
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned that those who flouted the lockdown were putting themselves at risk and promised to punish those who attacked the police. France's lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus permits people to leave home only to buy groceries, go to work, seek medical care or exercise. However, President Emmanuel Macron said the over month-long lockdown, to battle, the virus will be eased from May 11.
That decision came while France on Friday reported 389 more coronavirus deaths, a lower toll than in previous days. Authorities also welcomed new falls in the number of patients in the hospital and intensive care. The deaths of 305 people in hospitals and 84 in nursing homes brought France's total toll to 22,245, top health official Jerome Salomon told reporters. Despite the improving data, Salomon said: "The circulation of the virus remains high. We must be mobilized and respect social distancing, which must become a reflex."
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