2013, video, found footage, 8:52 minutes
On the night of October 17, 1961 over 30,000 people took to the streets of Paris at the urging of the FLN (National Liberation Front of Algeria) to challenge the citywide curfew enforced on “Muslims and Algerians”.
Under the leadership of Maurice Papon, the Paris police reacted with extreme force to suppress the demonstration: many protestors were severely beaten and thrown into the Seine – some already dead, some to drown. Bodies were reportedly found days later floating some 220 miles downriver in the port of Le Havre. Of the 12,000 arrested, 1500 were deported to Algeria.
The French government’s responsibility for the massacre was recognized for the first time by President Francois Hollande in 2012. Officially the death toll is 3, though historians, journalists and activists claim over 200 people were killed that night. Government records – those that remain – are still sealed.
“Meanwhile, most of the city slept or went its carefree way. Laughing women and men danced the touriste or the cha-cha-cha to candlelight in the Club Privé at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, danced at the Epi-Club, danced at Chez Regine, danced in the ballrooms and cabarets. Old-timers, some of whom had lived through the German Occupation, or even the concentration camps, played cards or dominos or quatre-cents vingt-et-un in the old cafés…Clyde drank at the Monoco to forget about Jinx, Jinx drank at the Select to forget about herself… and Ahmed lay dead, his head battered to a pulp by police clubs, on the corner of rue du Bac and the Boulevard Saint-Germain.”– William Gardner Smith, The Stone Face, 1963