Benoît Digeon, mayor of Montargis: “Chaos becomes a playground”

Benoît Digeon, mayor of Montargis: “Chaos becomes a playground”

What happened in your city last week?

Shops were looted, cars burned, the police station was attacked. Very mobile bands, elusive, disappeared then reappeared. They did a lot of damage for two nights.

Can we compare these riots to those of 2005?

At the time, I was first deputy. We have known some but they have never reached such an extreme. They affected only one quarter. There, they entered the city center.

What other differences do you see between the two?

The main one seems to me the ludic dimension of the violence. From now on, it’s all about having fun, the chaos becomes a playground. We are faced with a very disturbed youth, who put themselves on the stage for social networks, strike poses in front of their misdeeds with a chivalrous attitude. Society changes. We find kids of 12 or 13 years old outside in the middle of the night, we wonder what the parents are doing.

Montargis nevertheless has a reputation as a peaceful town…

Yes, and it is. We have small dealers, like everywhere. Over the past ten years, 87 cameras have been installed in the city, which usually makes it possible to manage petty crime. Our agglomeration has 64,000 inhabitants, the rioters were only 300. Except that they reproduce what they constantly see on their telephone: flames, accidents, vandalism, which are becoming the norm. Last week, one of them set fire to the pharmacy, causing the building to collapse. Despite his mask, we have identified him, we know him. He approached with a bottle, he spilled the flammable liquid, and the fire caught on with incredible speed. He had his spectacular image.

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