Spontaneous Riot at Gare du Nord29 Mar 2007 21:52 GMT
Extract from a testimony published on Indymedia-Paris:
"From what could be seen around 10pm, one could suspect that there had been some unrest... The lingering tear gas scent did not manage to scatter the small groups. We learn that a "Foot Locker" shoe store was smashed and plundered a little earlier. Other stores and furniture were also attacked. Comments were written on the walls in permanent marker. One-way monitoring videocams were disconnected, and some "360° black bowl" cameras were simply destroyed. Large flower pots (50 cm diameter) were thrown from the ground floor to the 2nd basement, presumably on the cops... A SNCF "welcome and information" desk is smashed, its computers and other machines extracted and burst on the ground by gleeful girls. Sporadic charges, retreat and reformation of the small groups of rioters... Tense confrontation for almost 5 hours.
The police force, although numerous (around 300 cops overall), hardly manages to pacify the station. They hesitate between a direct onslaught and the requirement not to completely cut the traffic [subway lines 4 and 5 were stopped or required not to stop in Gare du Nord, as well as the RER lines B and D, but not SNCF suburban train lines]. Plenty of new travellers arrive every 5 minutes, which shuffles the crowd each time: new outraged travellers stop, stagnate, insult the cops, like this kindly-looking black man in a suit who pelts them with stuff while insulting them... The surroundings are not easy to control for the cops. The situation is not that good for the rebels either, though: a feeling of being stuck in a concrete block with cops everywhere, journalists everywhere with their fucking cameras, monitoring cams on all floors... A cop passes by carrying one of his colleagues - in a sorry state - on his back! A (tiny) fire that was started requires the firemen's intervention! The cops seem to have instructions to retake the ground rather than to make prisoners - case in point: they catch ten persons during a charge, shackling them and kicking them in the ribs, then release them when ordered to by a sergeant (or some other officer) who explains that they are here to charge, not to arrest people.
The cops gradually manage to retake all basement floors, finally succeeding in chasing everyone from the station towards the plaza in front of it. Charge. Around fifty people decide to block the intersection between Faubourg Saint-Denis and Lafayette street. A bus is blocked. A few minutes of pondering if it should be smashed or not, then it finally pulls away. Meanwhile, a "pétroleuse" finds a broken sofa, pushes it in the middle of the crossroads and lights it on fire. The small burning roadblock is quickly strengthened with doors and other wooden boards found in the vicinity. A lone police car comes by. It barely escapes the wrath of the small crowd which chases it with a little delay. Cop reinforcements arrive: ten vans pull up at full throttle. The last rebels flee to a small street, build up a small roadblock out of construction site equipment. A car full of civilians turns from another street and passes at full speed spraying gas from a window. Escape towards Gare de l'Est. End of the spree... Apparently.
At least nine people were detained... They were probably brought to the police station at Riquet street (19th arondissement) or in 10th arrondissement."