France: Warning to Les Flics

To foreign tourists, the Paris cop seems a model of quiet courtesy. He directs them to American Express and Thomas Cook with a debonair salute; he guides gladiatorial traffic with a calm nonchalance. Frenchmen look on le flic quite differently. Apart from their dislike of taking orders from anyone, they know that frequently in the hem of his natty blue cape is sewn enough buckshot to break a man's—and sometimes a woman's—nose. They have seen him wading into a crowd flailing a 6-ft. riot cane like a scythe.

Parisians recall many bloody heads...

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