” It is very strange to sleep with the police in your own living room. For two days, Filipe Ferreira-Pousos, mayor of La Riche (Indre-et-Loire) since October 2022, has been under police protection. After receiving threats in the first nights of rioting, and then stones in his garden, ” six or seven Masked people tried to enter his house at night from Saturday to Sunday to set his car on fire, leaving behind a Molotov cocktail, before he could scare them away and put out the flames. Only the rear bumper of his car was affected by the fire.
The 55-year-old elected official was one of 241 mayors affected by violence in recent days that Emmanuel Macron received on July 4 at the Elysee Palace. After being placed under police protection, Filipe Ferreira-Poussos prefers not to talk about it: “I know very well that I am not personally targeted, I am a symbol, but these people must also realize that behind these symbols, there are people.”
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The symbol of the country is one of the priority goals of these young people. In this small town of Tours with a population of 11,000, the mayor has become one of the only accessible representatives of the state. An actor they know and rub shoulders with. ” I see these young men regularly, and we say hello to each other, there was never a problem, but as there is no possibility of going anywhere other than the neighborhood to express themselves, they will attack the town hall, at the school, to me A city council member testifies.
Behind the Mayor of La Riche hide several others, intimidating, and attacking, who repeatedly plead for help in the face of mounting rudeness and aggression. Almost 1,650 facts have been recorded in 2023, including at least 400 since the riots began. According to the district census, in Ile-de-France, 18 central town halls or annexes were damaged during this outbreak of violence, as well as 36 municipal police stations. Like Filipe Ferreira-Pousos, many mayors have been targeted directly, such as Stéphanie Van Euw, mayor of Pontoise (Val-d’Oise), who was deliberately targeted with mortars while driving or Vincent Jeanbrun (LR), mayor of L’Haÿ -Les-Roses (Val d’Oise), whose house has been subjected to an attempted shooting while his wife and two children are present.
For Muriel Fabre, Secretary General of the Association of Mayors of France, the proximity of mayors makes them easy targets: They are often said to be ‘on the smack’.And They are the first to whom people turn “.
In the face of public outrage, they are the first interlocutors. A heavy role explains the increasing number of resignations. Since the last election in 2020, 1,293 mayors have left office, a rate of 3.7%. “I understand elected officials throwing in the towel. We have a lot of responsibilities and pressures.explains Muriel Faber.
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Violence is escalating, elected officials are leaving office, and yet the topic has taken some time to gain a foothold in the public debate. We had to wait for the tragic attack on the mayor of Saint-Brévin-les-Bains – his house was the target of a torch over opposition to reception in the town’s asylum-seeker reception center – for the government to take over, and declare a “safety package” To protect elected officials. ” The state’s response was long overdue, while the Arab Monetary Fund had alerted the public authorities for months Muriel Faber says.
“Threatened by Papakito”
Referrers Attacks on elected officials In the gendarmerie, Pharos mobilizes, the device Team Warning: the “eviction” Dominique Faure, Minister for Regional Communities, has announced that mayors will have access to fast and personal assistance. Each person has his own reference and file, in order to facilitate management in case of emergency.
But the central point of these announcements is the creation of Calaé (Center for Analysis and Combating Attacks on Elected Officials), a service of fifteen people housed in the Ministry of the Interior, whose mission is to centralize the information collected. He notably featured in the case of the mayor of Montjoy, Christian Urgall, who was harassed and threatened with death by far-right videographer “Papaquito” over a domestic dispute. Le Calaé, with her new powers, was able to report the youtubeur’s activities to the Pharos platform, which suspended the channel permanently. A victory that bodes well for the Foundation’s work.
“We are in a hurry”
” In the security package, the first notes are consistent with what we suggestedMuriel Faber admits, Even if it was the matter of Calais, we would have liked to be associated with it, since for some years we have been doing the same work with the Observatory of Attacks on Elected Officials. »
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Necessary independence for Luis Caldas, Adviser to the Ministry of Local Authorities: The aim was not to replace what had been done, but rather that a governmental and institutional response was needed to this problem. The two devices must live and work together. »
But for Muriel Faber, it’s still too slow: ” What we often scold is the classification without follow-up of attacks on elected officials. And at this point, we’ve only evolved a little bit. In the same way, the training of gendarmes and police guides is still a bit slow. We are in an emergency situation, we must act if we want to stop the explosion of violence. »
‘No quick fix’
With this in mind, the President received those 241 mayors who have been directly or indirectly attacked in recent days, to assure them of his support. Three and a half hours, listening to elected officials, but without government announcements.
I wasn’t expecting much so I wasn’t disappointed. The mayor of La Riche confesses, at the exit of the Elysee. It was an interesting exchange moment, but we knew nothing more would be announced. In any case, we know the reasons, they are multiple. But we haven’t found a silver bullet..
For Muriel Faber, nothing surprising: “Receiving mayors is a legitimate matter, but without procedures behind it, it is useless. They will come up with proposals that we have to listen to. We need political will. The state’s response is often after the fact, and we wonder “Why was nothing done before?”.