Nîmes: In the Pissevin district, “the inhabitants would like to leave, but they do not have the means”

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Testimonials In this district of Nîmes, where a child died, victim of a shooting, the inhabitants deplore a permanent feeling of insecurity

Nîmes : In the Pissevin district, “the inhabitants would like to leave, but they don’t have the means”

The Pissevin district, in Nîmes, this Tuesday morning. — N. Bonzom/Maxele Presse

  • Monday evening, in the popular district Pissevin, in Nîmes, a 10-year-old child died, collateral victim of a shooting, on the avenue des Arts.
  • In this neighborhood, plagued by drug trafficking and settling scores, the inhabitants deplore a permanent feeling of insecurity.
  • “We have abandoned the public space to a hundred individuals who lay down the law, and who no longer have any faith,” laments Raouf Azzouz, the director of the Thousand Colors centre.

In Pissevin, the mercury exceeded 40 degrees, Tuesday afternoon. But no matter this suffocating heat, which beats on the bars of buildings. In this district of Nîmes (Gard), gangrené by drug trafficking and the settling of accounts, it’s rather the course reached by the violence, Monday evening, which is in everyone heads: a 10-year-old child is dead, a victim of pain. Sound of a shootout on Avenue des Arts. Raouf Azzouz, the director of the Les Mille Couleurs social center, who has been trying for twenty-five years to bring the inhabitants of this popular district into dialogue, “sounds the alarm bell for years”.< /p>

“It’s no longer possible, the neighborhood isn’t what it was a decade ago,” he laments. Trafficking, weapons circulating… And now, we shoot at view of anyone. The associations ensure that there is civic life in this neighborhood and that the inhabitants find hope again. But unfortunately, we gave up. the public space at a hundred people who make the law, and who no longer have faith.” During the day, there are “chauffeurs” everywhere, “under their parasols, with their cam, customers come, help themselves”, continues the associative actor n&iccirc;mois. But in the evening, at Pissevin, we're going back to; the House. And we don’t venture into the hottest corners of the city.

Dealers, « I know their fathers, their sons »

This district, Alain Lorgeas knows it, too, by heart. Since 1972, “I’ve lived down there, on the 7th floor,” the 10-year-old boy died on Monday evening. Today, he is the chairman of the committee. district of Pissevin. “If I’m scared? You know, I am a former paratrooper non-commissioned officer, ça, ça does not scare me, confides Alain Lorgeas. Personally, I have no problems with dealers. Severe; where I live, there is a point of deal. When I arrive, with my groceries, they open the door for me. Because I know their fathers, their sons… But some residents fear for their children, yes, that's for sure. They would like to leave, of course. But they absolutely do not have the means. They can't do anything.”

A Nîmoise, who lives in; “500 meters away vol d'oiseau de Pissevin”, confirms that “violence and the deal” are, unfortunately, everywhere, in this district, just like in Valdegour and Chemin Bas d’Avignon. “Rodeos, very close to my house, as soon as night falls,” she lists. Stoned buses, assaulted bus drivers… And every weekend, fireworks. I learned that it’s to celebrate good sales…” A friend, this Nîmoise continues, had to fleeing her home for seven nights because criminals were hiding “in her garden, when the police arrived” And the locals, she laments, are “the first victims” “They don’t even dare to moan because they fear reprisals. A minority people are ruining the lives of thousands of others.”

”My grandmother doesn’t live there anymore, and we are relieved”

Another witness, whose grandparents lived in an apartment in a condominium; in the heart of Pissevin, recalls, over the course of his visits, “having seen the neighborhood transform” in an infrequent district. “My grandmother has not lived there for five years, and we are relieved. When she left, there were no longer any of the former owners and tenants. Some are dead. Others preferred flee. Their apartments obtained after years of hard work are worth nothing. But too bad.”

A 30-year-old from Nîmois also saw the neighborhood descend into violence, when he was a high school student, between 2007 and 2012, at the professional high school Voltaire, in Paris. Pissevin. It’s been “rackets, threats, shootings in broad daylight,” he said. “From year to year, the atmosphere became heavy. The school had given us instructions not to be left alone in front of the establishment outside of supervised break times, or to avoid parking in front to avoid theft. We weren't scared, no… &Cedil;it didn’t go that far. But there was, all the same, a sense of insecurity; permanent.”

Nîmes : In the Pissevin district, “the inhabitants would like to leave, but they don’t have the means”

The avenue des Arts, in the Pissevin district, near; Nîmes, where the young boy died on Monday evening. – N. Bonzom/Maxele Presse

A police station “so that the inhabitants are a little reassured”

Fifteen settling of accounts left eight people dead. N mes in 2020 and three in 2021, including a 17-year-old teenager. Especially at Pissevin. Since then, the district has not ceased to blacken the news columns of the newspapers. Last Sunday, a teenager was seriously injured by bullets. Last June, a journalist from M6 was past to tobacco by minors, while he was reporting to Pissevin. And in January, a man was there. beaten down. Violence is an additional penalty for the inhabitants of this district, already hard hit by precariousness. In Pissevin, 70% of the 13,000 inhabitants live below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate reaches 46%.

But the inhabitants and the associative actors have solutions. For many, it is necessary, first, that the police presence is reinforced. “The police should not drive by anymore, but drive by. foot, confides Alain Lorgeas. If they switch to at full speed by car, ç nothing.” Raouf Azzouz, he is campaigning for the creation of a police station, “even symbolic” Pissevin. “So that the inhabitants are a little reassured, underlines the director of the social center. So that there is a Republican presence in the neighborhood. Today, the only Republican presence in Pissevin, it's the associations.”

”“Make sure that the population doesn't give up”

And there is urgency. Because life in the neighborhood dies out. little fire. “Doctors are going to leave the area because they don’t have a medical home, continues Raouf Azzouz. We hardly have any more shops, in the gallery, there must be only one café left. We even have more media,” since the town hall of N”mes closed it, when it was surrounded by drug dealers. “My responsibility, as director of the social center, is to raise awareness, and to ensure that the population does not give up, and continues to fight. believe in better days,” says the director of Mille couleurs.


Raouf Azzouz hopes, in agreement with his family, to succeed in organize a white march, in the coming days, in tribute to the young boy, who died; Monday evening on the avenue des Arts. “I hope that people will come out of their homes, and that finally they will say 'No, not a child,' continues the director of Les Mille couleurs. If ever, on the other hand, there is no one this march, I will consider this neighborhood lost.”