French police chief suspended over ‘racist’ New Year card

French police chief suspended over 'racist' New Year card
Illustration photo: AFP
France's interior minister has suspended a senior policeman over a card celebrating the New Year deemed to be blatantly racist at a time when the force faces accusations of prejudice towards people of colour.

The card for New Year, sent by a police station outside Paris, shows a cartoon of a white policeman beckoning a black man to approach him as he brandishes a taser.

“Come closer. My taser is recharging in the cigarette lighter,” says the slogan in the cartoon, below which is written “the commissioner and the police… wish you a very happy 2021.”

 

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin wrote on Twitter late on Saturday that an investigation has been launched and the commissioner questioned. “He has been suspended,” he added.

The cartoon “shocked a lot of people due to the racist connotations,” said an interior ministry official, who asked not to be named. “It is incomprehensible.”

The identity of the commissioner and exact location of the police station have not been revealed.

French police have been under fire over repeated instances where black or Arab suspects have been roughly arrested or beaten, prompting accusations of institutionalised racism in the force.

The beating of black music producer Michel Zecler in November prompted a storm of controversy, with four police charged over the assault.


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