French police chief suspended over ‘racist’ New Year card

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.

French police chief suspended over 'racist' New Year card
Illustration photo: AFP

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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French authorities pay extra €111m for 2024 Olympics

French authorities have announced that they will increase their contribution to the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic organising committee (Cojo) by €111 million.

French authorities pay extra €111m for 2024 Olympics

National and local government were heeding a request from Cojo, which said on November 21st that they needed to lift their budget estimate 10 per cent from €3.98 billion to €4.48bn, partly as a result of inflation.

Cojo are due to finalise the budget for running the Games at a board meeting on December 12th.

The French government has been funnelling its contribution through Solideo, the public company in charge of building projects.

Cojo is meant to be self-funding but had already received €100 million from the national government, ear-marked for the Paralympics.

National, Parisian and regional governments are all contributing but said they had not yet agreed who was paying how much.

They did say extra cash includes €71 million more for the Paralympics, €12 million for “sports equipment”, €15 million for regional “redevelopment projects” and €8 million for anti-doping.

With Cojo pressing ahead with an ambitious opening ceremony on the Seine, they said the budget for the four Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies is “up €30 million to €130 million”.

Cojo said sponsorship and ticket sales were ahead of projections.

Tony Estanguet, the Cojo president, said that inflation would be reflected in the prices of tickets for prime sessions and that the plan for free transport for the spectators, had been dropped.