In France, the police organize counter-demonstrations | Voice of america


PARIS – Following the death of George Floyd in police custody in the American city of Minneapolis, the heated debate spread to France, triggering protests against alleged police violence and racism. French police reprimand criticism as unfair.For several weeks, protesters in France have been demanding police reforms and the end of an alleged police immunity. Their protests met with strong resistance from the security forces and their unions. Officers organize counter protests, throwing their handcuffs to the ground in anger and what they see as a lack of government support.

During one of these demonstrations – on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – a French policeman refused to give his name.

He thinks the police are stigmatized in France and he feels the need to speak out because, he says, the police are not racist. He says the other big issues that should be addressed are the technique of strangulation and what he says is the lack of consideration of the police. He said that five years ago (during the Paris attacks in 2015) the French police were considered heroes and now – he says – they would be nobody.

Prohibition of suffocation

Chokehold is a controversial technique that the French government wanted to ban in order to show that it has no tolerance for racism and violence among its security forces. Faced with reactions from the police and women, the authorities backed down. Instead, the government decided that the technique would no longer be taught to police and prison staff, but the leaders did not impose a total ban.

In addition to this important victory for them, the police maintain that they have been abandoned by the state. Police unions organize frequent demonstrations to pressure the government.

The protests show how difficult it is to carry out an in-depth reform of the police sector.

But human rights defenders say the protests show that France and the world have no choice. Cécile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International in France.

“We think it is a sign that what we really need in France is a comprehensive reform, not only one measure or the other but a real revision of the doctrine itself, based on de-escalation because law and enforcement too often rely on repression, using force before trying to rely on dialogue, communication and de-escalation, ”said Coudriou.

In a new attempt to quell the police’s discontent, France has said it is expanding tests for pistols. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has promised unconditional support to the base.

He explains that only the security forces are empowered to use legitimate force, that only they defend democratic order. This, he says, is at the heart of their missions and they must do it with restraint and exemplarity. Castaner says French police should work without fear when they do their job according to the rules.

A police watchdog in France said it had received nearly 1,500 complaints against police officers last year, half of which were for alleged violence.


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