Minister of Interior Manuel Valls Criticizes the Mayor of Marseille in the Wake of Violence

Manuel Valls Photo: flickr.com/photos/DenisDenis

Manuel Valls
Photo: flickr.com/photos/DenisDenis

Visiting Marseille in the wake of the city’s thirteenth gang-related death this year, French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls showered criticism on the Marseille police force and elected elite. Minister Valls criticized how Marseille “has been abandoned for years, by the state as well as by local authorities, and, particularly, the municipal ones.” Valls, claiming that local officials lack a concern for security, stated that measures were lacking “in matters of safety, education, and the fight against poverty and insecurity,” according to Le Monde.

Marseille’s seasoned mayor of 18 years, Jean-Paul Gaudin, took personal offense to the minister’s criticism, reminding Valls how he must “not forget the small concentration of national police present in the Marseille, especially compared to other major cities in France.”

Despite its attraction as a coastal tourist destination and as France’s second-largest city, organized crime and security issues have plagued Marseille. Thirteen casualties have occurred in the first eight months of 2013, resulting from organized crime, according to the French Press Agency (AFP). Crimes peaked in August with the assault of a 22 year-old student on August 9, and an 18 year-old man was knifed in the chest during a fight at a nightclub on August 18. Violence continued when one of the attackers in the knife brawl stabbed an assisting nurse in the arm “because the wait was too long” to receive treatment at the hospital, reports Le Monde.

An ensuing assault of a 25 year-old man in the district of l’Estaque brought Minister Valls to Marseille to assess the state of affairs. The victim, who had already been subjected to two assassination attempts, according to the AFP, was shot nearly a dozen times with a 9mm pistol by two passing men on scooters.

Marseille, a large metropolitan hub with a “white bourgeois center and a periphery of color,” has for years been afflicted with drug-related violence in its northern suburbs. Jean Viard, sociologist and researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), believes violence is infiltrating further into the city. “This summer, it is political violence,” he concluded in a statement reported by Le Monde.

In response to this rise in brutality, Minister Valls and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced a trip to Marseille on Tuesday afternoon to publicize the commission of additional resources to the judicial police of Marseille. The government had previously sent an additional 230 police and gendarmes to Marseille in September 2012, as well as creating two “security priority areas” (SPA) in the city, as part of a plan to control the municipality’s crime.

Valls, already under fire from both ends of the political spectrum for comments on family reunification rights for immigrants and Islamic policy, continued to chastise the officials of Marseille. “What did the mayor of Marseille do?” Minister Valls questioned on BFM TV, maintaining that it took federal pressure and Valls’ own action for Mayor Gaudin to take measures, such as installing CCTV for the whole city. Gaudin responded he was “stunned” by Minister Valls’ statements, calling them “demagogic” and “aggressive,” according to a report by le Figaro.

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  1. […] Visiting Marseille in the wake of the city’s 13th gang-related death this year, French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls showered criticism on the Marseille police force and elected officials. Minister Valls criticized how Marseille “has been abandoned for years, by the state as well as by local authorities, and, particularly, the municipal ones.” Valls, claiming that local officials lack a concern for security, stated that measures were… […]

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