Fist bump. Again and again. Gedrange. Three against one. Violent scenes. What is happening?, all france wonders. It is the video of a police operation that leaves stunned and angry.
A music producer is brutally attacked by three police officers at the entrance to his paris recording studio – in the end it is he who ends up in police custody. His luck: a private surveillance camera films the incident. Even president emmanuel macron reacts – saying he is "very shocked". Is that enough?
It is the second time in a week that brutal action of the police shakes france. A few days ago, it was video footage of the aggressive raid on a migrant camp in paris that left many speechless. The incidents fuel the debate about a security law with which the government wants to better protect the police and at the same time restrict video recordings of police operations.
Thousands of people took to the streets in protest against the controversial law. In paris alone, some 46.000 people, as the french news agency AFP reports with reference to the interior ministry. Protesters set up barricades and threw objects at police. According to france’s interior minister gerald darmanin, a total of 37 police officers and gendarmes were injured throughout france during the protests. He condemned the violence via twitter as unacceptable. According to the paris police, nine people were arrested.
There have also been demonstrations in cities such as strasbourg, marseille and lyon. In the breton town of rennes, there were sporadic riots, as the french news agency AFP reported. The police used tranengas.
An article of the controversial law provides for the criminalization of the publication of pictures of security officers in action, if this is done with the aim of injuring the physical or mental integrity of the police officers. A prison sentence of one year or a fine of 45.000 euros could be the consequence of it.
Time and again, police violence occurs in france – often uncovered by video recordings. A glance at the recent past is enough. During the "yellow vests" protests, images of brutal police interventions made the rounds. The security forces also used hard rubber bullets against peaceful demonstrators, several people were seriously injured in the face and lost an eye. There was international criticism.
In january, a scooter rider died after a police check – his autopsy revealed a fractured larynx. Here, too, a video shows the incident. In summer, thousands demonstrated against racism and police violence. Protests organized by sister of young black man who died in 2016 during arrest. Many see a structural problem in the french police force.
Also the music producer michel Z. Is black. He claims to have been racially insulted by the officers several times. He describes living near his studio in the 17. He says that he has been on the road without a corona mask, although this is obligatory. Then a police car had come, he had gone into the studio a few meters away. The policemen followed him. Then the recording of the surveillance camera begins, eight and a half minutes or so.
The pictures show how the officials Z. In the entrance, beat. "I have always said to myself: if you fall to the ground now, you will stay there". Then you can’t get up," the producer describes to the magazine "loopsider," which published the recordings. With the help of musicians from the studio basement, he can finally force the police officers out of the studio. A few minutes later, a transgenic gas cartridge flies into the studio. According to reports, the officials state that Z. Attacked them.
The recordings show otherwise. The public prosecutor’s office is investigating. The three officers involved and one of their colleagues were suspended and taken into police custody for questioning themselves on friday afternoon. Interior minister gerald darmanin comes under pressure. He demands the dismissal of the officials, should the misconduct be confirmed. They had "soiled the uniform of the republic". Yet he seems rather defiant. Darmanin is considered a conservative hardliner, the face of law and order. He defends the police. And yes, the latter is also under pressure because of the terrorist attacks in the country.
Darmamin is also the one defending the new security law despite massive criticism. It should "protect those who protect us". A controversial article provides that the publication of images of security officers on duty, with the aim of harming the physical or psychological integrity of police officers, will be punished. A buttery formulation with huge room for interpretation. Many media fear for freedom of the press.
The government keeps claiming that freedom of the press is not in danger, but that is hardly convincing. Prime minister jean castex now wanted an "independent commission" to work on formulating the article – parliament went on the barricades, castex backed down. A demonstration against the law this saturday in paris was initially banned by the police. After a court ruling, the protest march can now go ahead after all. A rally in the place de la republique is also allowed. The situation had just escalated there – during the evacuation of the migrant camp.