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Skateboarders are welcomed in Bordeaux by the new ecologist mayor, while he wants all cars banned. Photo: Clément Falize
Bordeaux

‘I am disgusted with Bordeaux, we are no longer safe here’

After he was attacked and stripped of his belongings by an organised gang, a Bordeaux journalist gave a distraught view of his city, which he says he no longer recognizes. Residents report thefts and violent attacks on a daily basis. The mayor is worried about a "climate emergency" however.

Published: August 6, 2020, 8:37 am

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    Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne river in Southwestern France. The municipality has a population of around 250 000 people. The city’s new ecologist mayor Pierre Hurmic (EELV) elected in June, has declared the “climate challenge” as his first objective. “We will therefore declare a state of climate emergency,” Hurmic announced.

    The assaulted journalist believes ecological issues are not the main problem. A few days after his assault in Bordeaux, downstairs from his home, the journalist still cannot get over it: “I lived in a foreign country where violence and poverty are everywhere, but I was never attacked there,” he explained to French weekly Valeurs Actuelles.

    Twelve stabbing attacks in the French city have been recorded within a just a few weeks. Faced with this worrying situation, the silence of the new municipal team led by the ecologist Hurmic has become deafening.

    When the response from the main interested party finally arrived recently, he blamed others for the stabbings: “I would remind you that the phenomenon already existed before our arrival, it dates back several months.” He said other cities were also affected by an upsurge in delinquency.

    The journalist recounted his harrowing experience. He lives in a quiet residential area in the center of Bordeaux. A few steps from his door, a teenager on a bicycle approached him: “He came up to me and started to tell me things in incomprehensible gibberish, he was talking to me about football. Then he asked me if I had a computer in my bag.” This was when the individual tried to push him over. Several other people arrived, probably part of an ambush: “Why are you talking to this guy, he’s crazy, don’t talk to him”.

    One of them then slammed the reporter against the wall and literally lifted him off the ground with a choke hold. His accomplices took the opportunity to dispossess him of all his belongings: his computer, smartphone, ID documents and money, before running away. “I saw stars, I was losing consciousness,” said the reporter, who still had bruises around neck three days after the assault.

    At 27, the young man believes that he escaped the worst. “Not him, it’s good,” one of his attackers said to another individual, who was advancing towards the journalist with a knife, looking threatening.

    “I can’t be sure, but I think I avoided a regular beating or stabbing, because I didn’t show any sign of resistance, or maybe because, like them, I have a dark complexion,” he explained.

    The Bordeaux resident is now several weeks behind on an important project, following the theft of his equipment, and he speaks with an undisguised bitterness: “We must not kid ourselves, it is a fact, as for most of the attacks, lately, they were of the North African type, well defined profiles.”

    According to information, the modus operandi of the attackers, probably “MNA” [unaccompanied minors], are always the same.

    “I am disgusted with Bordeaux, we no longer feel safe here. There are now areas of lawlessness. I live in a peaceful, family neighborhood, where everyone knows each other, but I no longer feel at home. We used to say that to girls, but now I won’t go home alone.”

    He added: “A friend of mine got his throat slit by the one who tried to steal my phone earlier.”  The violence is now a daily phenomenon. On July 30, a teenager was very seriously injured by gunshots.

    Residents and traders said it was “a catastrophic situation, drug trafficking and violence are everywhere and the police nowhere – we want to see the police in the streets”.

    But Hurmic said that he was not for an extension of the powers of the municipal police. “I am hostile to the arming of the municipal police.” The elected ecologist said he would not be “the mayor of the proliferation of CCTV cameras” either, even if he does not intend to remove the already existing equipment.

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