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Blue vests: Fatigued French police to launch their own protests and blockades

After the yellow vests, it's now the turn of the blue vests (gilets bleus) to show their anger as French police unions are calling on officers to picket France's police stations on Wednesday as they fight for better working conditions and pay.

Blue vests: Fatigued French police to launch their own protests and blockades
Photo: AFP
Police in France have repeatedly warned about fatigue and frustration seeping into the ranks in recent years and it appears the month-long and often violent yellow vest protests has pushed them over the edge.
 
They have already warned the government that they are at breaking point and on Wednesday they will launch their own protest movement, which has earned them the title “les gilets bleus”  – the blue vests, after the protective body gear that they wear.
 
Police union Alliance is calling for a “black day for the police” in France on December 19th, asking officers to down their tools and picket the country's police stations. 
 
On Twitter and Facebook the union has called on officers to join the so-called “act 1” of the police protests, using the name given to the demonstrations by the gilets jaunes
 
Alliance has voiced its opposition to the upcoming budget which it says will see conditions worsen for the country's police force at a time when its already beleaguered officers say they have reached “breaking point”
 
On Tuesday the French government said it would pay a one-off bonus of €300 to all those officers who were deployed for the “yellow vest” protests. I's unclear whether this will be enough to pacify the police.
 
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Photo: AFP

“This Thursday, December 20th, the National Assembly is set to adopt the 2019 budget for the security forces and in particular the police budget,” said Alliance. 
 
“This budget sees a drop of €62 million of investment in the National Police, which will mean that once again our working conditions deteriorate.”
 
The union went on to say: “Despite our repeated appeals to the President of the Republic to announce an emergency plan for the security forces, so far nothing has been said.” 
 
The union has called for the country's police to “only respond to emergency calls” throughout the day on Wednesday, adding that if a significant effort to address their concerns was not seen from January 1st 2019 then other types of action would follow. 
 
Meanwhile the UNSA police union, which initially demanded to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, is set to meet with France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Tuesday evening. 
 
Castaner said on Monday that he meet the representatives from the national police “in a spirit of dialogue and mutual trust.”
 
Another union Alternative Police has denounced the call by the Alliance union whilst echoing their grievances.
 
Denis Jacob from Alternative wants unions to show a united front and has called for action in January if talks with the government fail.
 
According to a senate committee report released this year, France's police force is “in crisis” due to the combined strain of terror attacks, the migrant crisis and terrible working conditions.
 
Photo: AFP
 
According to the report, the police force in France faces terrible working conditions including gruelling hours as it is more in demand than ever due to terror attacks and the migrant crisis. 
 
The report states that police have to work irregular schedules and only get one weekend out of five off. 
 
It is believed that the stress created by this environment is partly to blame for the devastatingly high suicide rate among police which is 36 percent higher than the rest of the population. 
 
And naturally the recent weeks of protests by the 'yellow vest' movement, which started largely peacefully before growing increasingly violent, and the Strasbourg attack, which took place last Tuesday, have served to highlight the issues faced by the country's police.
 
On Saturday French police sent a stark warning to the government after another weekend of violence in cities around the country left them “at breaking point”.
 
For the last three Saturday's they have come under a hail of cobblestones and bottles, had fireworks aimed at them and at times simply been given the run around by rioters and looters. 
 
Although their response to violence has not always been exemplary as some videos on social media can attest to the French police say they are tired of being the punchbag for Macron and his government.

Member comments

  1. You can always count on the unions to mess things up.
    They are responsible for (organizing) the Yellows and the Police.

  2. Dear Chez Moi, and you think there’s nothing wrong with this despicable government? The “Yellows” were right to demonstrate, and the Police have also been treated badly by this terrible government. Macron must go! He favours the rich and the poor have to suffer. The Unions help people, they don’t “mess things up”. This government has messed things up!

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POLICE

Paris suburbs see third night of violence

The Parisian suburbs of Sevran, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Tremblay-en-France have seen clashes between residents and police, ever since an officer shot and killed the driver of a stolen van on Saturday.

Paris suburbs see third night of violence

Angry residents and police clashed for a third night in suburbs north of Paris, leading to 13 arrests following the fatal shooting of a father-of-four by an officer at the weekend, police said Tuesday.

Despite a heavy police presence to prevent further violence, several cars, a dozen bins and an abandoned sports centre were set alight overnight in the low-income Sevran, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Tremblay-en-France suburbs, a police source told AFP.

The unrest began Saturday after a police officer fatally shot the driver of a van that had been reported stolen and was being inspected at a traffic light in Sevran at around lunchtime.

The officer was hospitalised afterwards “in a state of shock,” local prosecutor Eric Mathais said Sunday, while internal police investigators have opened a probe into the incident.

Local people who knew the man named as Jean-Paul told AFP that he had taken a van owned by his employer who owed him wages.

They have also questioned how the officer could justify opening fire when his life was not in danger, which is the only justification for using a weapon under French law.

A protest march by the dead man’s family is expected in the next few days.

Residents in France’s multiracial suburbs often complain about heavy-handed policing methods and violence that have led to a series of scandals in recent years, including the February 2017 arrest of a black man who was allegedly sodomised with a police baton.

Police unions say officers often face hostility and attacks, and are faced with the difficult task of trying to maintain order in impoverished high-rise housing estates that in some cases are centres of drug dealing and other criminality.

The French government began a public consultation in February aimed at devising ways to increase public confidence in the police.

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