Blog

Postcard from Paris

Ici on noie les algériens.


Charonne. The name echoes forward in French history as a reminder of police brutality. Eight names with eight faces and witnesses to their deaths. Murdered in protest, but what they were protesting, hardly anyone remembers (the massacre on the seventeenth of October, 1961). Parisian police descended on a crowd of pro-FLN Algerian demonstrators, beating them and pushing the unconscious or dead into the Seine below to wash ashore overnight. Median estimates settle on 200 murdered. Silence and denial had all but erased October 17, 1961 from public memory until the state admitted to 40 of the deaths in 1998. They came to light because the head of police responsible for the attacks was being investigated for his trial fifty years in the making, for orchestrating the deportation of more than 1500 Jews during WWII.

A version of this piece was published in the Greenlight Bookstore chapbook Hypothetical People.