Feature

Hoods were in evidence in the week’s most shocking episode: a six-minute video of four youths robbing and badly beating a young man in a bus in north-central Paris [picture at top. Victim with scarf just before attack]. They punched passengers who intervened, while the driver sat impassive throughout . The security camera video, from an incident last December, was put on Facebook by a police officer, and picked up by all the media. Extracts made the TV news but the police are trying to remove it from the net.

The police officer is likely to be charged for disseminating the video, which is circulating on far-right sites as an example of the ultra-violence committed by kids from the immigrant ghettos. The non-white attackers insult their victim as «sale français» — dirty Frenchman.

The police say two of the youths were arrested on the spot after the driver called for help and a third has since been detained. The RATP tranport authority says that its bus drivers have orders not to intervene in defence of passengers but to stay at the wheel and press a silent alarm button. RATP drivers say that such attacks are fairly common on the all-night buses. «If you do not have money for a taxi on Saturday night, it’s better to stay in the disco and wait for the morning,» a driver said in today’s le Parisien.

The sense of violence running out of control is also being fed by reports of an explosion of corner-shop (convenience store) hold-ups in Paris and other cities by teenage robbers. Armed robbery by minors jumped 44 percent in 2008. The police say they are being overwhelmed by casual stick-ups in which groups of baby bandits with airguns or fake pistols or knives help themselves to the takings of small shops. A bébé braqueur describes the fun in Le Point news magazine, out today: «When you arrive, you scream straight away. Just the sight of your hood and they start trembling.»

Video violence unsettles France