As Paris residents are slowly melting under an unprecedented heat wave that started earlier in June, French mainstream media could not help but take the opportunity to stigmatize suburban youth again who have tried to cope with the unbearable temperatures by opening neighborhood fire hydrants.
“While this practice is indeed dangerous because of the risks of electrocution and of lack of water in case of a fire, the reactions it has sparked demonstrate hypocrisy and a huge classist disdain,” said Paris Luttes Info in a communique issued Saturday.
In recent days, the French media has multiplied news articles criticizing the waste of water and reminding audiences of the needs of firemen, while avoiding to investigate further the reasons motivating the young residents — the majority of immigrant origins — to take risks and open the fire hydrants as a last resort.
Besides the media stigmatization, the youth — including children — are also facing a strong police repression with dozens of officers attacking them with flash-ball and tear gas.
“Instead of finding solutions and helping the young residents living in underprivileged districts during a heatwave, (the state) prefers repression when they find solutions by themselves,” added the statement.
“It is quite hypocritical, pathetic and despising that reporters and politicians patronize — from their air-conditioned offices — young people living in districts where the majority has no air-conditioning. It is pathetic that the State sends cops paid to hit young people cooling off while it does not bother renovating the insulation in schools and universities … or building new parks and swimming pools.”
During the 2003 heatwave in France, about 15,000 people died, but the temperatures affected disproportionately the poor suburbs of Paris — with more victims were reported in these neighborhoods than any other area of the city.