the use of elite police and gendarmerie units, an unprecedented and “umed” strategy

Gendarmes on the Champs-Elysées, in Paris, on July 2, 2023.

Ihe image made the rounds on social networks before being repeated on a loop by television news: on the evening of Thursday, June 29, the “Sherpa”, an armored vehicle from the research and intervention brigade (BRI) of the Prefecture of police of Paris, roars while sweeping barricades set up on an avenue of Nanterre, epicenter of the urban riots which shake the country. Two days after the death of Nahel M., 17, shot at close range by a police officer During a traffic check, no one expected to see the staff of this prestigious unit mobilized, nor those of the RAID (Research, istance, Intervention, Deterrence), the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN ) and their local branches, more experienced in hostage-taking and the interception of “go fast” than in the management of “VU” – urban violence.

Forgotten, the restraint instructions given during the first clashes. With the proliferation of scenes of looting and extreme violence, the overwhelming images of the roadside check which cost the life of the young Nahel M. disappeared from the screens in a few hours, in favor of apocalyptic sequences, avenues in flames, shopping centers robbed. , sheaves of firework mortars fired against public buildings.

From Place Beauvau, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, understood that public opinion was turning around, that the risk of a trial based on incompetence – worse in his eyes: laxity – now exceeded that, however very real, of a new burr. Politically, he also felt he had free rein. Contrary to a Nicolas Sarkozy entangled in his lies after the death of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, two teenagers electrocuted after a chase with the police in October 2005, did he not judge “extremely shocking” the images of the deadly road check in Nanterre, filmed by a per-by and gone viral?

“Show of Strength”

The tone and the method change. “Systematic intervention instructions have been given to the police”, he tweets on Thursday, June 29. The same morning, as part of the enhanced operational coordination system in urban areas and territories, a first decision authorized the gendarmerie’s security and intervention platoons to act in the police zone. Then came that of engaging the elite units of the police and the gendarmerie on the ground. For a “show of force totally umed and claimed, says the minister’s entourage, with a double operational and psychological objective”.

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