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I have heard the following sentence in the TV series "Marseille":

La BAC a évacué les jeunes hier, à Felix Pyat.

Context: Felix Pyat is a poor and violent neighborhood of Marseille and BAC is a police unit. The police raided a group of kids the day before in the violent neighborhood Felix Pyat.

The corresponding English subtitle is "The BAC raided some kids yesterday in Felix Pyat", which confirms my understanding.

However, it seems to me that the verb "évacuer" is odd in this context, as AFAIK it is used as the English verb "to evacuate" and therefore it means "to get people away from a dangerous and/or undesirable situation (eg fire, landslide, protest, terrorist attack)", not "to search people and arrest them if they are performing an illegal activity" as it's done in a raid. Wouldn't make more sense to say something like "faire une descente" instead of "évacuer"? Or could "évacuer" also have that meaning?

  • Or it could be a euphemism. – Peter Shor Jan 23 at 20:18
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In this context, which can't be anything else than that of the illicit occupation of a public place by either delinquents, migrants or simply protestors, the usual term used to connote the usually not violent action of the police to force the people out of the place is "faire évacuer".

Nevertheless, there is another acception of this word; it is found also in the TLFi.

C. [Le compl. désigne une pers. ou un groupe de pers.] 1. Faire partir d'un lieu dangereux ou interdit par l'autorité.

The part "to get people away from a dangerous and/or undesirable situation (eg fire, landslide, protest, terrorist attack)" is covered by "faire partir d'un lieu dangereux". "Faire partir d'un lieu interdit par l'autorité" is here what is meant. As there is no search and arrest operation involved in such police activity and as the chasing away of the people is not done through violence because in many cases the mere presence of a sufficient police force is enough to convince the people that there is no other choice but to leave the place the term "raid" is not as appropriate. No, the term "evacuer" can't have the meaning "to search people and arrest them if they are performing an illegal activity" .

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