Yesterday the police protested in many French cities against the Minister of the Interior and the entire French government. At the beginning of this week, the government announced a “zero tolerance” for racism in the police services. “Any justified suspicion will be systematically considered for suspension,” said the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner on Monday. The police feel abandoned by the government.
“I want a zero-tolerance against racism in law enforcement,” Castaner made it clear on Monday. “No racist can properly wear the uniform of a police officer or a gendarme. I have also asked that a suspension be systematically considered in any well-founded suspicion of a racist act or statement.”
The Minister also announced a ban on performing strangulation movements during arrests, with suspects being held by the neck. Police officers are also more likely to get a body camera when they take to the streets.
Castaner said he heard “a powerful outcry against racism and hatred” during the demonstrations in France and elsewhere following the death of George Floyd in the United States. “But people have to realize that France is not the US,” he emphasized. “There have been cases of racism in the French security forces, but they are not racist institutions.”
The Minister’s statements have been thrown into the wrong way by French police officers. They feel “let down,” it sounds.
Several moments of consultation between the police unions and the Minister were not able to calm things down. “Our agents no longer regard Christophe Castaner as France’s supposed number one agent,” said Yves Lefebvre, secretary-general of the largest police union, Unité SGP Police.
“He dumped us on Monday, it is now up to him to regain our confidence,” said Lefebvre after meeting with the Minister yesterday. The union man called on his colleagues to “stop questioning and stop performing interventions”.
In several French cities, including Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Nice, protests were made last night against the Minister and the entire French government.
“This government has no backbone, 20,000 excited people are enough for the government to drop the police,” said an angry Parisian agent in Le Parisien newspaper.
“In December 2018, at the height of the yellow vest crisis, when they were trembling in their palace, Macron, Castaner, and their entire cabal needed us. But as the youth protests, we get dirty and unacceptable,” he said.