Here’s another cultural enrichment story from France, a very bizarre one involving Romany immigrants. Our French correspondent Robert Marchenoir has translated an article from Nord-éclair, and includes this prefatory note:
Note the mix of factual reporting and naive, personal, unbridled opinion, typical of local reporting in the French regional press.
It might strike an American reader as rather non-professional. However, the advantage of such reporting, often done by poorly-paid part-timers, is the lack of political correctness. A full-time professional journalist would probably have whitewashed the facts. He would certainly not have genuinely reflected the feelings of the general population, the way it is done here.
The translated article:
A Gypsy hits a policeman using a baby as a weapon- - - - - - - - -
Robin, France, June 27, 2009 — Nord-éclair — The presence of Gypsies from Romania in the Roubaix area [north of France] has always brought its load of problems, but a new threshold was reached when a difficult arrest was made last Thursday: a young woman grabbed a baby by its foot and used it as a weapon to hit a policeman.
Last Thursday, around 6.30 p.m., a police patrol stops a young man driving without a licence or insurance. [A common practice, it seems, among Gypsies.] […] Tempers flare. Extra police are summoned to the place. Around ten of them are present when the exchange takes an astonishing turn. A young Gypsy grabs a one-year old baby from the arms of a man belonging to the camp. She steps in front of the policemen. The police think she is trying to prevent the arrest by acting as a human shield. Far from it.
First, she grabs the baby by an arm and a leg, and hits a policeman with it. Then, she grabs it by one foot only, and hits again. What’s happening is awful. The baby cries. The police try to hinder this explosion of violence. This baby used as a weapon; it’s unbearable. Then the woman tries to throw the baby on the ground. Policemen manage to catch it before it falls. They rush it away to the hospital, far from this scene of hysteria.
But wait. Other women bare their breasts, and splatter the police with their own milk. One Gypsy man mutilates himself: he slashes his belly with a 20-cm wound. The police provide him with emergency care and press the wound in order to keep the blood from flowing. The baby-swinging woman, who is not the baby’s mother, is brought to the police station. The baby is in a state of shock. An inquest is begun. The baby might be put under the care of a foster family. Legal proceedings have been started for violence and rebellion.
Why such violence? At the football club next door, people are waiting eagerly for the Gypsies’ departure. The situation has been very tense for the last month: “They steal our footballs, they send their children to relieve themselves on the football ground right while we’re training,” says the coach Hassen Hamidi. [Note how the Arab coach complains about Gypsies in a way that would be deemed “racist” if it came from an aboriginal French. Arabs and Gypsies are notoriously at odds with each other in France, and violent incidents often occur between them. — translator]
People from the neighbourhood have been helpful to Gypsies. But [the Gypsies’] aggressiveness and lack of respect are unbearable.