After a string of protests against police brutality and alleged racism in France, it was the police themselves who took to the streets in several French cities on Thursday.
In Nice, Lyon and Toulouse among others, officers threw their handcuffs on the ground to protest Interior Minister Christophe Castaner's promises earlier that week of a “zero tolerance” for racism among the country's law enforcement.
Vowing to strike down hard on any racist behaviour, Castaner said any police officer even suspected of misconduct would be immediately suspended. He also declared to scrap a controversial detainment technique known as the “chokehold”.
? EN COURS – Les #policiers de #SaintÉtienne déposent leurs menottes suite au récentes déclarations de Christophe #Castaner sur les #ViolencesPolicieres. Des rassemblements un peu partout en France. “Une action très forte” prévue demain à #Paris. #Police pic.twitter.com/Vo3Cl3j6NA
— Anonyme Citoyen (@AnonymeCitoyen) June 11, 2020
Menottes jettées au sol devant la préfecture de police de Bobigny.
Les policiers en colère estiment ne plus avoir les moyens d’interpeller les correctement suite aux annonces de Castaner. pic.twitter.com/TpGDPcPwWB
— Clément Lanot (@ClementLanot) June 11, 2020
The announcements caused outrage among France's police forces, with unions claiming the government would reduce policing to “street fighting or the use of tasers”.
“My colleagues are no longer protected, they are left in the desert by their minister,” said Yves Lefebvre of Unité SGP police union, adding,
“So I call on my colleagues not to make arrests anymore, to stop intervening.”
Philippe Capon from UNSA police union said: “We told (the interior minister) that his points from Monday were misplaced.”
The “chokehold technique,” Capon said, “permits us to intervene on a daily basis.”
Selon Philippe Capon (UNSA Police), Christophe Castaner dit “regretter ses propos” sur les “soupçons avérés” pic.twitter.com/VC3xVT0EyM
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) June 11, 2020
On Friday morning, police officers in Paris marched down the Champs-Elysées avenue in protest.
Police protesting in Paris today in a bid to make the French interior minister backpedal on his promises earlier this week to scrap a controversial detainment technique known as 'chokehold' and immediately suspend any officer accused of misconduct. https://t.co/MQt7YalF4m
— Ingri Bergo (@ingribergo) June 12, 2020
Police officers protesting in Marseille. Photo: AFP
«Castaner a évoqué une idée pour tenter de calmer la colère des syndicats policiers, ce jeudi soir: maintenir la clé d'étranglement respiratoire et non la clé d'étranglement sanguin.» C'était pourquoi, toutes ces annonces, lundi, au juste? https://t.co/fxw7C16xL9
— David Dufresne (@davduf) June 11, 2020
New protests against police violence and racism are expected in French cities this weekend.
President Emmanuel Macron will be making his fourth televised speech to the nation since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic on Sunday, with the protests likely featuring among the topics he will address.
READ ALSO: What can we expect from Macron's speech?