French police protested along the Champs Elysees on Friday (June 12), accusing the government of scapegoating law enforcement agencies, as public anger over race discrimination continues to grow. Protests had escalated late on Thursday (June 11) across the country following a meeting between police unions and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
Unions accuse the government of showing disrespect after Castaner on Monday promised “zero tolerance” for racism within law enforcement agencies and banned a chokehold used to detain suspects.
“Five years ago, we were the heroes, and now, we’re good for nothing,” this protester said.
The outpouring of grief across the world following the death of George Floyd has resonated in France. Especially in deprived city suburbs where accusations of brutal, racist treatment of residents of often immigrant background by French police remain largely unaddressed, rights groups say. Fabien Vanhemelryck is the Secretary General of the Police Union.
“It’s not for nothing that we are here. It’s simply because we’re fed up. Our colleagues are hurt, are disgusted. They’re fed up of being stigmatised with all the statements that we’ve heard, but also with the social climate that has lasted over a long period. We, the national police, keep on being accused by society of many things.”
A Black Lives Matter protest is planned in Paris on Saturday, June 13.