Paris (CNN)While billionaires isolate themselves at luxurious hideaways on the Mediterranean during the coronavirus outbreak, residents in deprived and crowded areas of France are now facing a surge in deaths, along with unrest on the streets.
From private testing for the rich to unrest in banlieues, coronavirus is highlighting France's stark divide
Hostilities erupted this week in Paris' northern banlieues (or suburbs) following accusations of police brutality and racism during the coronavirus outbreak. Footage on social media appeared to show cars and trash cans set alight on roads, protesters hurling firecrackers and police racing to control the crowds.
The lockdown in France has had very different consequences for different sections of society since it was announced on March 17. The country's ban on all non-essential business until May 11, along with a requirement for a permission slip to venture outside, has had the harshest impact on people living in poorer, more densely populated neighborhoods, according to an op-ed from several activist organizations and unions in Mediapart on Friday.
The associations -- including ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens) -- wrote that people in working class neighborhoods were on the front lines as essential workers. "Yet social inequalities, already glaring, are reinforced by the management of the coronavirus and will explode with the economic and social crisis to come."
In stark contrast, wealthy residents at one of the country's most exclusive gated communities on the French Riviera have been embroiled in controversy after it emerged that some had access to antibody testing, despite the strain on hospitals and nursing homes across the country.
The tensions in Paris's northern suburbs flared up after an incident last Saturday night, when a motorcyclist, who is of a minority ethnicity, in the Villeneuve-la-Garenne banlieue broke his leg after police opened a car door in his path. Police said in a press release that the incident was an accident that occurred as officers got out of the car to speak with the motorcyclist, claiming 50 people then targeted police with projectiles.
The motorcyclist's lawyer, Stephane Gas, has asked for an investigation into the police's behavior by the General Inspectorate of National Police (IGPN), telling CNN that the police's characterization of the incident was "all upside-down."
He said the o