Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
France’s police are very upset. We’ve witnessed the same blind level of BLM protests here on behalf of Adama Traoré, allegedly killed in police hands back in 2016. His family were well known to police for various criminal offenses, similar to George Floyd, and Traoré himself had resisted police arrest at least twice. Give the sustained and well-documented level of police brutality toward the Gilets Jaunes over 72 Saturdays (see Don’t French Lives Matter? Forgetting Massive Police Brutality [VIDEO & PHOTOS]), BLM-style protestors – choosing to ignore this – have clearly weaponized the race card. Just as they have in the US where Chauvin and Floyd, known to each other as club bouncers, are/were individuals each with dubious pasts and a mutual dislike. Hardly the stuff worthy of noble national protest against ‘racism’ and against the police.
And how has France’s Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, responded to this manipulated, weaponized cause? By claiming in a TV news interview that he would bend the knee if required. Shades of the idiot Democrats like Pelosi.
That, plus other clumsy statements calling into question the violence (on full display by certain police) and alleged racism of his own police force. His ‘all cops are the same’ idea is what police have their backs up about, in particular.
It’s a complex situation regarding French police. We’ve done various reports on the rising levels of suicides among them over the last few years, especially when terrorist attacks were the fashion. That, plus new, morphing types of violent crime in the impossible-to-police, largely immigrant suburbs (think: no-go zones), lack of government support in these difficult situations, plus notoriously low pay amid endless pressure to work through the weekends policing the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vest protests. The police have been the wall of security against the population and the government. Which the government is well aware of by buying them off with promises last year that their pensions wouldn’t be reformed. So impending police revolt is an important subject in France. And you can bet that the French government, like all authority figures and institutions in France, will manage it clumsily, with disdain and arrogance.
So yesterday saw some symbolic police protests in certain French cities against the racism charges levelled at them, while police unions met with Interior Minister Christophe Castaner in Paris, a man few seem to have any faith in, including Macron’s own circle.
Today, police from particular unions are staging a protest around one of Paris’ monuments to march on key government offices.
Police on social media are making fun of the politically correct crowd, as reported below. DeltaMike59 on Twitter is a source of interesting videos and photos. This is one of them:
Is the government abandoning its police force?
After the various announcements by the government and especially by the Minister of the Interior concerning the issues of racism and violence within the internal security forces, some police officers are feeling let down by the government.
After months of social protest by the Yellow Vests, then a change of social movement by the trade unions and demonstrators opposed to the pension reform, has the French government finally yielded to pressure by abandoning its police officers and gendarmes accused by a fringe of the population of racism and violence? According to some police officers and trade union officials interviewed by RT France, there is now a shared feeling in the national police force that Christophe Castaner (ER: minister of the interior) has abandoned his cops. “We’ve been fed to the wolves,” one national police officer assured us.
‘Proven Suspicion’ – the inacceptable phrase
After several demonstrations in support of the Traoré family (ER: France’s equivalent of George Floyd) and accusations of racism and violence by police officers and gendarmes, the latest statements by the boss of Beauvau (Castaner) were clearly badly received by a large number of police officers: the term “proven suspicion” concerning the racist expressions used by certain civil servants particularly made the police officers balk.
Those whom RT France has been able to question in the last few days have also raised the suspicion that Christophe Castaner does not know his job, the law and the police world. The police also criticise the interior minister for the position he has taken on demonstrations banned for health reasons yet tolerated following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The general secretary of the Alternative police union, Denis Jacob, answered the question asked by RT France on the phone, “Has the government let go of its police officers?” with “If it hasn’t… it looks like it!”
And the militant policeman said: “You can’t go from one extreme to the other. We must not deny racism and police violence, of course, but the measures that are being taken now look like a generalisation and the police are very angry, it’s the last straw for us and revolt is not far off! We are in the same situation as in 2016 [when police officers demonstrated in the streets to express their anger]. Now, it can take many forms, but I think the police will be keen to show that if the institution stops functioning, the fight against crime will stop.”
Police reports deficient in denouncing working conditions
ER: cue the humor
Some mischievous police officers have already started to issue reports about a “current national situation” according to which it would be better to let an individual continue to “insult them copiously during the checkpoint” rather than arrest him for contempt. Before concluding the report with an amused provocation to the administration: “Let’s put the individual back on his bike, greet him politely and wish him a good end to his day. No questioning in order to avoid any possible riot or future accusations of racism.”
The same reply of a former policeman who continues to check up on his colleagues and who confided to RT France:
“The guys in some police stations don’t want to arrest black people any more, it’s as simple as that. They don’t want to be used as fuses. They don’t feel at all supported by this government.”
In another video circulating in police circles and which RT France was able to view, we see a policeman assigned to the anti-crime squad in Ile-de-France (ER: the huge metropolitan region around Paris) filmed inside a vehicle who reports on the radio and announces, while the credits of the Bisounours (ER: Care Bears, children’s music) sound in the passenger compartment: “Contrary to the shocking allegations of your complainant, we have not seen any individual with an iron bar in a place where everything is only peace and love. We were careful to drive very gently in this place so as not to frighten these little beings from this magical world, end of transmission”, reports the policeman. This humorous report was soon broadcast on social networks. (ER: this is DeltaMike59)
An evolution of techniques… but towards what?
Beyond the subject of police violence and alleged racism within the institution, the very technique of questioning suspects was directly questioned by the Interior Minister in his speech to the press on 8 June. In particular, he announced the end of the neck stranglehold and, almost as a result, an unconfirmed piece of information leaked to the media: the taser could make its way back into the police officer’s and gendarme’s equipment… An announcement that Christophe Castaner apparently wanted to keep for the trade unions on 11 and 12 June. But Emmanuel Macron spoke again on this on 10 June and castigated, according to comments reported by Sibeth Ndiaye, “racism and discrimination, this scourge which is a betrayal of republican universalism,” while seeking, according to the same source quoted by AFP, to defend the forces of law and order, “the overwhelming majority of which cannot be smeared. Above all, the spokeswoman stressed that it was indeed the president who had “called for the modernization of questioning techniques and intervention at a time when we are experiencing a situation of extreme tension.
A statement that could confirm what some police officers questioned by RT France feared: media pressure would have led to a decision on arrest techniques “without prior consultation” with the trade unions, as summed up for example by Christophe Canon, Hauts-de-France CRS zonal delegate for the Unsa Police:
“The feeling we have as police officers is that Beauvau is working in reverse. The minister makes announcements that we discover in the press.”
Contacted by RT France, an official of the technical and scientific police union said tersely: “We don’t understand the statements of the Minister of the Interior who seems, on the one hand, to lack police culture and, on the other hand, to make public statements to please the public in the moment of the emotion.”
In this case, some policemen and gendarmes may have been surprised to discover in the columns of the newspaper Le Parisien, in particular that the famous “Taser” of the American company Axon could potentially come back into the limelight while the neck grip was about to disappear? Depending on the calls for tenders and the purchasing policy that will eventually follow at the departmental level.
A police officer interviewed explained his position on this dance of hesitation: “They take away a self-defence technique to give us back Tasers that have been labelled as dangerous…. We don’t understand anything about this. Are they going to ban judo too? Because in theory it’s just as dangerous. It’s just a “get on the ground” technique that’s not supposed to last long. But when a recalcitrant person refuses control, we have no choice but to bring him down and handcuff him.”
The same civil servant who prefers to remain anonymous believes that Christophe Castaner is being “patronizing” in view of the municipal elections... Another policewoman even believes that “it is the next presidential campaign that is being prepared” for the outgoing president. The latter adds:
“Christophe Castaner reacts to emotion, it’s not an intelligent decision, we go to the wall and press the accelerator. He doesn’t know his job and should leave this post. Taking away the cops’ means of action is like making a casserole without potatoes and replacing them with strawberries…” “The minister should get advice from real cops, it wouldn’t hurt.”
The other unnamed official is also concerned about the equipment: “Still, the tasers have to be of good quality. They must not be undersized, having no effect, nor that the charge isn’t held, so that you can only use it once without recharging it!”
Should Castaner leave?
Interviewed by RT France, Jean-Pierre Colombies, former police commander and spokesman of the outraged police association UPNI, deplored: “I’ve said it many times in the press and on TV for months, one day we’ll pay for this opposition that has been orchestrated between police and citizens.”
(ER: this is an important observation. Reports about police culture during the time of the Yellow Vests protests indicated that a culture of opposition to the population had been carefully cultivated over time by the government in its police training techniques.)
The former union policeman adds an iconoclastic grain of salt about him:
“Castaner isn’t abandoning the police, it’s a piece of union theatrics. But I especially remember that this minister speaks of “proven suspicion” and proposes to reform the inspection bodies. Over and above the antinomic nature of the term, I would remind you that there is already an administrative procedure in place in the event of a finding of non-compliant behaviour. It would be enough to apply the code of ethics of the 1980s. At the time of Mitterrand, we were given it when we joined the national police force and we had to carry it with us at all times, in theory. There was even a plastic card that we kept in our pocket.”
And commenting on behalf of his colleagues still on duty:
“Castaner stigmatises and casts doubt on the police institution and he speaks of symbols in Bourdin’s house (ER: TV news program) after having himself contributed to this extreme social tension… If he wants to ease the situation, let him resign! That’s the real gesture people are waiting for. On the Traoré affair, there’s no need to play the Calais bourgeois who comes to make amends with a noose around their necks. You don’t play appeasement after setting fire to the citizenry during the whole yellow vest crisis.”
The feeling of unease is shared by the first anonymous policeman interviewed above:
“The minister is proving the vermin right, whereas the problem is really the people who resist an arrest in the first place (ER: Adama Traore, France’s Floyd figure, resisted arrest three times), we should not forget that! It is the opinion of a very limited fringe of the population that has prevailed over reason, in reality, and that is what bothers us as police officers. Those who do shit must be kept away, no worries, but first of all, the simple police presence must no longer be experienced as mistrust in certain areas. People who do not believe in the simple notion of a police mission are currently being proven right. And we feel abandoned.”
The various police officers, association spokespeople and trade union leaders interviewed all deplored the latest statements made by Christophe Castaner, some calling for his resignation. Will the minister know how to mend his relationship with the social partners at the meetings scheduled for June 11 and 12 in Beauvau?
In parallel to this new debate, a little music to the tune of reshuffling has been heard in recent weeks, culminating in the publication by the weekly Marianne of the advice from the majority group leader of the National Assembly, Gilles Le Gendre to Emmanuel Macron. In this letter attributed to him, this faithful servant suggested to the President of the Republic to replace Christophe Castaner by Jean-Yves Le Drian during the next ministerial shuffle. According to this scenario, Christophe Castaner would have been destined for the Ministry of the Armed Forces, from the Hotel de Beauvau to the Hotel de Brienne, in short. But as a policeman said on the phone: “In the end, we won’t know anything about it beforehand, it’s always the PR [President of the Republic] who decides everything, we can see that.”
Le gouvernement lâche-t-il sa police ?
Après les différentes annonces du gouvernement et surtout du ministre de l’Intérieur concernant les questions du racisme et de la violence au sein des forces de sécurité intérieure, certains policiers s’estiment lâchés par le gouvernement.
Après des mois de contestation sociale par les Gilets jaunes, puis une relève du mouvement social par les syndicats et les manifestants opposés à la réforme des retraites, le gouvernement français a-t-il finalement cédé à la pression en abandonnant ses policiers et ses gendarmes accusés par une frange de la population de racisme et de violence ? Selon certains policiers et responsables syndicaux interrogés par RT France, il s’agit à présent d’un sentiment partagé dans la police nationale : Christophe Castaner aurait lâché ses flics. «Nous sommes carrément lâchés et livrés en pâture», nous a même assuré un agent de la police nationale.
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