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France left shocked by ‘savage’ New Year attacks on police

The French government has vowed a crackdown after separate attacks on French police officers over New Year, which which included a policewoman being repeatedly kicked and beaten in a "savage" assault that was filmed and posted on social media.

France left shocked by 'savage' New Year attacks on police
Police protest against violence in Paris in October 2016. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

French political leaders have vowed justice and promised a crackdown after a shocking attack on a female police officer on New Year's Eve was filmed and posted online.

The attack in the eastern Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne saw the officer knocked to the ground before being repeatedly kicked and punched in the head and body (see video below).

President Emmanuel Macron called the crime a “cowardly and criminal lynching”, and vowed that those responsible would be caught and punished.

The incident took place in the early hours of New Year's Day after an emergency call out to a private party where huge hundreds had turned up and security were forced to turn hundreds away.

Police were called when a group of around 20 people, who refused to leave the event, broke into the warehouse where the party was taking place. The area was cleared by police.

They fired tear gas after “a group of particularly violent individuals laid into the police,” local security chief Jean-Yves Oses said.

 

It's not clear what happened next but two police officers, one female and one male, became isolated among the crowd. Video images show youths turning over a police patrol car to cheers from crowds.

Then images show the policewoman knocked to the road and repeatedly kicked and punched.

Her colleague was also attacked and suffered a broken nose. 

Two people were detained on suspicion of vandalism, but no one has been arrested for attacking the police.

On Tuesday, reports of another attack on police officers emerged, this time in the northern suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois when police stopped two youths suspected of stealing a scooter.

One officer was punched several times while another fired his gun into the air to scare off the attackers.

The attacks on the police were widely condemned by France's outraged political class, who offered solidarity to the injured officers but also demanded swift and tough justice for those responsible. Far right leader Marine Le Pen demanded a reform to allow police to greater use of “legitimate defense” to respond to such attacks.

Pressure grew on France's interior minister Gerard Collomb, who called the attacks “savage” and “unacceptable”.

He denounced a “society of violence” that “cannot continue to exist”.

Collomb said reforms were needed to improve lives in “pauperised, ghettoised” French suburbs, which have long suffered a reputation for violence and poverty.

“These are neighbourhoods that must change,” Collomb said, ahead of new pilot schemes in local policing set to begin next month following a large-scale consultation with security forces.

President Macron set out a raft of policies to fight poverty in downtrodden districts in November after critics labelled him a “president of the rich” due to his generous tax cuts for high earners.

He reached out to the poor again in his New Year's message, promising a “grand social project” in 2018.

But the two New Year's attacks on police are just the latest in a long line of incidents in which the forces of law and order have been targeted. 

French police have long suffered testy relations with youths in poor immigrant-heavy suburbs, not least since the nationwide riots in 2005 sparked by the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while hiding from officers.

The assault of a young man by police in Aulnay-sous-Bois — which led to officers being charged, including for rape after a truncheon was shoved up the youth's anus — sparked fresh unrest last year.

In October 2016 a police patrol car was attacked with petrol bombs in a suburb near Paris leaving officers seriously injured.

Politicians condemned the attack and police officers staged protests on the Champs-Elysées to denounce the violence.

Spontaneous French police protests spread amid anger

“We want to fight against the trivialization of violence against the police,” one police officer in Nice told the Nice Matin newspaper at the time.

“We want to be heard by our hierarchy and by the judiciary. If we become victims ourselves, who will protect the public?

“We are under huge demand, but younger colleagues are being discouraged.”

Another police officer told the LCI news site: “We don't feel safe anymore so the French people don't either.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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