The mayor said unprecedented incidents had taken place and videos show “armies” of young men with baseball bats fighting.
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France, which has been rocked by its own anti-racism protests and also anger over discrimination against migrant communities in Paris suburbs, now reports a gangland war that has turned the city of Dijon into a battleground over the last few days. Special police units have reportedly been dispatched to the city to deal with “dozens of Chechens” who have clashed with other communities.
Le Monde reported on Monday that hundreds of police were rushed to Dijon, a city several hours southeast of Paris with a population of 150,000 people. The mayor said unprecedented incidents had taken place and videos show “armies” of young men with baseball bats fighting. In one video, a car flips over like a scene from a film.
According to one report, Chechens from “all over France” had come to the city to battle “drug dealers.” Why? The reports in French say that a 16-year-old member of the community was assaulted. Over fifty Chechens came to the city to defend their community and seek justice.
Pelea de bandas en Dijon. Cientos de chechenos provenientes de toda Francia han ido a la ciudad a vengar la paliza que le dieron a un joven checheno de 16 años, los medios locales aseguran que por temas de drogas.pic.twitter.com/zEr0xauJp6
— Descifrando la Guerra (@descifraguerra) June 15, 2020
Gunshots reportedly injured one man who runs a pizza place. Three different waves of Chechen young men descended on the city, in reports that read more like something out of battles in the American Wild West than France in 2020, with lurid tales of “two hundred Chechens” gathering. One man was quoted in local media as saying that they came from all over Europe to seek vengeance for the harm done to the teenager, even from Germany and Belgium. “We never intended to ransack the city,” he said. City officials have condemned the attempted murder and organized gangs.
According to video taken on Monday, the Interior Ministry sent its special RAID police unit to the city. Videos posted online called the city a “warzone” with what were either allegedly gun shots or firecrackers ringing out and smoke from a burning fire. Video claimed to show “heavily armed militias” in the city, with men variously brandishing an AK-47 and a large pistol.
It appears that some French media want to downplay the violence and not mention it, with most of the harshest videos appearing online. In one video, at least a dozen men are seen brandishing weapons. Commentators suggested the youth in the videos were of North African origins and members of gangs who the Chechens were searching out.
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) June 15, 2020
Many who posted videos from the streets expressed shock at the large number of rifles and weapons visible on a continent like Europe where there is supposed to be gun control. The absence of police and law enforcement was also seen as concerning. Lack of media coverage also led to many wondering why Western media doesn’t seem to cover violence in the streets. Anti-immigrant sentiment and remarks about “this looks more like Syria,” were common on social media.
It was difficult to confirm all the videos, some of which showed shocking scenes of gunfire at night in the city; the lack of media on the ground leaves many questions about what happened in Dijon over the last several days.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed not to take down any statues in the wake of protests in other countries that saw historic statues removed.