Residents have been living in fear for days amidst the ongoing violence, as armed gangs patrolling the streets are burning garbage pails and cars and firing shots at surveillance cameras and each other in broad daylight. Police have made several arrests in a number of cities. The president of the largest opposition party has called for setting up a committee to investigate the atrocities, especially after evidence that one of the gangs had contacted police with an advance warning.
Dijon, eastern France, has been ravaged by gang violence for days, preventing local residents from leaving their homes in safety. Chechens have come to the city from all parts of the country to settle scores with a local North African gang, following the beating of a Chechen teenager. They wreaked havoc in the streets burning garbage pails, setting cars ablaze and firing shots into surveillance cameras.
L'impunité conduit tout droit à l'insurrection armée et bientôt aux guerres communautaires.— ALLIANCE PN (@alliancepolice) June 16, 2020
Au milieu du brasier, trop souvent les #policiers « dernier rempart » pour protéger notre liberté fondamentale d'aller et venir en sécurité. #jesoutiensmapolice #Dijon pic.twitter.com/kMpVhBfkvv
Local residents were already annoyed with police, convinced that law enforcement officers were not doing enough to protect them, and it is against this background that the new video has emerged, adding fuel to the fire. In it, Stephane Ragonneau, regional secretary of the national Alliance Police union, says that the Chechens had contacted local law enforcement to let them know that they would come to "clean things up." The regional secretary said that on Friday, ahead of the first night of atrocities, police received a visit by a group of armed, fully determined and calm Chechens, who asked them not to interfere and allow the gangs to settle their dispute the old fashioned way. Mr Ragonneau also told BFMTV's reporters that most of the Chechens who triggered the clashes were not locals but came to Dijon from different cities.
The footage has outraged local residents, and for a good reason, because authorities have failed to arrest even a single Chechen man amidst the rival gangs' street violence that has been ongoing for several days. Opposition politician Marine Le Pen described the street violence as a state-level scandal on Twitter and called for setting up a committee to investigate the incident and identify all those responsible.
In an interview with BFMTV, the father of the beaten boy asked the gangs to put an end to their warfare, adding that this story was not about drugs, but about violence.
The huge public outrage has had a palpable impact. On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Laurent Nunez paid a visit to the city of Dijon and pledged to deploy 150 police officers to restore peace. Law enforcement officers detained several members of the local Chechen community, including a 53-year-old man, a self-proclaimed 'wise man' of the community, who had signed a truce on behalf of the community among residents of the Grésilles district. Police have launched several investigations in a number of eastern cities in France and there have been arrests outside of Dijon, too.