(AP) Jul 23, 2009
PARIS Maurice Grimaud, who as Paris police chief played a key role
in avoiding major bloodshed during France's student uprising in May
1968, has died. He was 95.
Grimaud had died on July 16, Paris police headquarters said, giving
no cause of death. He was buried Tuesday at the city's Pere-Lachaise
cemetery the resting ground for famed statesmen and artists
including Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin and Jim Morrison.
Grimaud won posthumous praise from both France's law-and-order
president and a leftist leader of the 1968 revolt.
"With Maurice Grimaud, it's a great protagonist and a great witness
of our country's contemporary history that disappears," said
President Nicolas Sarkozy, himself a former interior minister and
known for his tough stance on crime.
A leader of the student uprising, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, said that
although Grimaud was "on the other side of the conflict, he's someone
I've greatly admired."
He added, "maintaining law and order didn't mean aggressive actions
toward protesters. He understood the students' revolt."
The would-be revolution, the defining event of postwar France,
started in May 1968 with protests at a university west of Paris
demanding that women and men be allowed to visit each other's
dormitory rooms. Trade unions joined in, and 10 million workers went
on strike. Longtime labor issues were quickly resolved, and the
students uprooted the nation's attitudes toward authority.
When students occupied the Sorbonne university and buildings around
France's Left Bank, Grimaud was credited for urging police restraint
and showing willingness to start dialogue with protesters.
A native of southern France, Grimaud was born on Nov. 11, 1913. He
studied literature and began his career at the seat of the French
colonial administration in Morocco in 1936. He then worked in Algeria
and Germany and later served as a local governor and aide to
then-Interior Minister Francois Mitterrand.
He succeeded Nazi-era collaborator Maurice Papon as head of the Paris
police force, where he served from 1967-71. Grimaud received the
prestigious Legion of Honor award and wrote two books.