The district of La Guillotière, in the 7th arrondissement of Lyon, symbolizes in many ways the enslavement of society that part of the political heist denounces.
For several weeks now, official visits by political figures have followed one another in Lyon. The Head of State himself visited the city of Gones on September 27, where he notably strolled through the aisles of the International Catering Fair. On October 7, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin traveled to Lyon to inaugurate the newly restored Police Hall on rue Marius Berliet, in the 8th arrondissement.
A visit that was particularly awaited by the groups of angry residents of several districts. The latter hoped to be received by the first cop in France to discuss with him the growing insecurity that is undermining their neighborhood. But this exchange did not take place, the fault of an overloaded schedule. “It was for us the opportunity to directly inform the Minister of the disintegration of our neighborhood and of the increasingly numerous problems that we encounter.», Regrets Nathalie Balmat, president of the local residents association “The Angry Guillotière”.
Because in a few years the climate has gradually deteriorated in this district of the 7th arrondissement. As evidenced by police interventions “Become daily”, as attested by several police sources in Figaro. «It’s getting worse and worse, no doubt about it“, Argues one of them. “Violence is insecurity, this is not entirely new at La Guillotière. It’s like urban rodeos, it’s something that we know. What we observe, however, is an exacerbation of violence since the first confinement in March 2020», Notes Alain Barberis, departmental secretary of the Alliance Police union in the Rhône. “As in all large cities, the health crisis, successive confinements have given rise to exacerbated behavior”, continues Mohamed Chihi, security assistant at the City of Lyon.
«It is a place that I strongly advise against»
But first, what violence are we talking about? Physical and verbal attacks, threats, racketeering, pick-pocketing, brawls, incivility of all kinds, degradations and even settling of scores with firearms have become over time the daily lot of residents and traders of La Guillotière.
“It is clear that this is a place that I strongly advise against”, launches a Lyonnais policeman to talk about the neighborhood. “We are dealing with a large Romanian community and another North African, which – in La Guillotière at least – are very involved in theft and incivility ”, breath another.
For several weeks, posters have been plastered on the windows of many shops in the area. “Too many consultations, too many promises, too many lies, we want action. Abandoned and angry traders ”, can we read in anticipation of a demonstration that will take place on October 21?
“We understand the exasperation of local residents, we hear their anger, and we are in good contact with the collectives. We have undertaken long-term work in which we provide answers within the framework of our skills and resources ”
Mohamed Chihi, Security Assistant at the City of Lyon.
Elected officials, police officers and residents agree in designating Place Gabriel Péri as the epicenter of all problems. “We are dealing with a district which is complex in terms of geography with a lot of small alleys and nooks and crannies. From one artery to another, the atmosphere changes dramatically. Incivilities are no longer the same, as are the population, businesses or even nuisances. Initially cosmopolitan or even bucolic, the district has become completely communitarized. But the beating heart of insecurity and anything, it is Gabriel Péri ”, confirms Nathalie Balmat, who ironically nicknamed the square “Gabriel Dépéri”.
“The place is squatted every day from 6 am to midnight by traffickers of all kinds, street vendors, receivers who settle on the ground, prostitutes and all kinds of little bosses. It is an area of all rights ”, concludes the president of “The Angry Guillotière”. The latter does not hesitate to compare the place to the sensitive district of Goutte d’Or, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.
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“Actions had been taken by the previous executive, such as police presence, video surveillance and cleaning up the square. We have maintained some of these actions. We have strengthened and even developed them. In September 2020, we also strengthened the partnership with the police and justice actors around a plan to secure and tranquilize Péri and the creation of a local delinquency treatment group (GLTD) ”, justifies Mohamed Chihi. But the deputy concedes that “This strategy has not made it possible to stem the problems”. The latter boasts “A new, more comprehensive approach”.
Frustrated and resigned police officers
Concretely, it is about “put more human resources on the ground, more police officers to fight against the various phenomena. But also to increase the vigilance of video surveillance operators, to intensify video verbalization in this sector and to control businesses that sell alcohol outside of authorized hours.“. During Gérald Darmanin’s visit on October 7, elected officials in particular asked the minister to strengthen the police force of the 3rd arrondissement police station on which Place Péri depends.
On the police side, many agents regret “lack of criminal response», Laments Alain Barberis. “Imagine: not a day goes by without the officers being called to La Guillotière and driving people to the station. Only many are minors or claim to be minors and are released during the day. The police are frustrated, resigned for some. There is a real loss of sense of the profession ”, regrets the trade unionist. On this point, the public prosecutor of Lyon, Nicolas Jacquet, took the decision to territorialize his penal policy “to systematize the response and adapt it to the difficulties of the territory“, According to the assistant to the security of the city.