Wednesday, November 22, 2006

French (Not So) Civil Servants

A demonstration by so called professional firefighters in Paris, Tuesday, demanding higher wages, a premium for dangerous assignments (combat pay?) and better pension benefits turned into a riot.
Police say fifteen officers were wounded and two are in serious condition after protesters hurled flares, street signs and other heavy objects at them. A police vehicle, another car and several trash cans were also set ablaze. Thirty-five firemen have been taken into custody.
Sounds like the firefighters union has taken a page from the muslims.
Several dozen fire fighters attacked security forces with flares, bottles, stones and anything else they could find, including street signs and traffic cones. Police countered with tear gas, but were only able to disperse the mob after 30 minutes.
Many of the 6,000 firefighters who attended the demonstration wore their issued gear. This serves also to protect them from the water cannons, tear gas, night sticks, etc. that police officers use to disrupt violent demostrations. It also helps to protect their identities from police surveillance.
One gendarme suffered a head injury from one of the projectiles, while another had his leg broken after being hit in the knee by a sledgehammer.
Some how I doubt that the normally cordial relations between police and fire in Paris will be restored shortly.
This was not the first demonstration of French fire fighters in recent memory.On September 25, pompiers from all over France gathered in Paris, and after an altercation with police forces also managed to block the peripheral road.
So twice in two months the firefighters have tussled with the gendarmes. I'm hoping this is atypical behavior, but does it seem to you that french society is becoming a bit unraveled?

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