The Dark Side

By Beverly Spicer September 10th, 2008

There were rumors in Perpignan that festival goers were being attacked on the streets.  We don’t have any figures on how many people this happened to, but here is one verified victim. Meet photographer Jason Howe, who was attacked while walking at night on a sidewalk just northwest of the area where the festival was held.  He was accosted, pushed to the ground, kicked and robbed.  I’m not sure how he incurred the nasty looking blow to his forehead, whether it was by hitting the ground or by direct assault, but you can see he had a rough encounter.  

Molly Roberts photographed him at lunch the next day and reports he was in pretty good shape in spite of his injuries. We guessed he might feel a lot worse in a day or two. Sorry to say, I don’t know exactly what possessions he lost in the attack, but this incident brought to mind the very sophisticated equipment one sees hanging around people’s necks as they casually stroll around town.  It’s a wonder it doesn’t happen more often.  

As you might have seen from a previous post, there were many security officers stationed around town, but apparently they couldn’t cover everything.  It’s all still a bit of a mystery, though I heard the suggestion “immigrant gangs” were responsible.  If anyone knows more about Jason’s or other incidents, leave a comment.  We’d be interested to hear more.  

2 Responses to “The Dark Side”

  1. Simon Griffee Says:

    Jason has said he wasn’t carrying anything other than a mobile phone:

    Does ‘I heard the suggestion “immigrant gangs” were responsible’ add anything of value here?

  2. Jeff McIntyre Says:

    I know of a few guys who have relatives in Perpignan and they said that punchups between Gypsies and locals were taking place sometimes. Not the normal stuff, but more serious incidents. I don’t have much more than that, but one guy said that it was in the news a few times. A cop in Paris told me that certain gangs follow the festivals around Europe and the same people can be seen at Visa, Pamplona, Bunol, the Oktoberfest etc and move from festival to festival. Btw, I am not anti-Gypsy or anything, quite the opposite.

    Getting robbed/mugged in Perpignan almost seems to be a rite of passage. Lots of people have had their rooms/ cars broken into, been mugged etc over the years. Also, why do people walk around Perpignan dripping in gear when it isn’t exactly a photoshoot? They are begging to be rolled. Hell, even I would be tempted to upgrade my gear by slapping some idiot around and doing a runner with a few top of the range Leicas, Canons or Nikons.

    I understand that Howe was only carrying his phone, which is probably the only camera and keyboard anyone would need there. Why do I get the impression that it has been more about trustafarians showing off and less about debating the real issues in photojournalism.

    Visa could do worse than offer courses in self defence because most of the trustie kids have probably never been, or even seen, a real scrap in their lives. They should also do something about insurance, both for gear and for health, instead of it being perceived as a back-slapping pissup for trustafarians. It seems a bit pointless to showcase the best in photojournalism, without doing something to support the industry fundamentals.

    BIG question here, but is it time for Perpignan to clean up its act and Visa to threaten to move if it doesn’t?
    Maybe somewhere more central would be economically practical because times are getting tough and a lot of people cannot afford to shell out the cash to get there.