A war is being waged against the police in France, but this war is never named. Pictured: A police officer speaks to a driver during a traffic stop after a night of riots in the north of Blois, France on March 17, 2021. (Photo by Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images)
On January 25 in Pantin, a suburb of Paris, on February 4 in Carcassonne in the south of France, and on February 13 in Poissy in Yvelines, organized groups of “young people” — according to the established media vocabulary to avoid any ethnic designation — lured police forces into their neighborhoods to ambush them. To the shouts of “Kill them; kill them all”, police patrols were attacked with explosives and pyrotechnic devices used as urban guerrilla weapons. Each time, videos of the attack were broadcast on social networks.
Between March 17 and May 5, 2020, French police were subjected to 79 ambushes, based on statistics from the Ministry of the Interior published by Le Figaro. In October 2020, Le Figaro counted at least ten attacks on police precincts since the beginning of the year, and more than 85 incidents of “violence against persons in positions of public authority” were recorded daily throughout the country by the national police, according to Le Monde. In January, the statistical services of the Ministry of the Interior recorded 2,288 such “kill them all” incidents, based on information from police reports.
A war is being waged against the police in France, but this war is never named. On the contrary, many members of the media, rap singers, actors, experts and others are joining delinquents and offenders to claim that an intrinsically racist police force is active in a war against Blacks and Arabs living in France.
Incessant and widely publicized demonstrations organized by the clan of Assa Traoré are the best example of this inversion. Since 2016, Assa Traoré, a black woman of African descent, has been leading a campaign against the police. She accused the police officers who arrested her brother, Adama, of killing him. Four official reports by experts have denied any “killing” by the police, but Assa Traoré keeps fighting and keeps producing experts’ reports of her own to “prove” that her brother was assassinated. She is now supported internationally. She has been named a “guardian of the year” by Time Magazine and obtained a full article in The New York Times.
Assa Traore is not alone in leading campaign against French police. In May 2020, while the French singer Camélia Jordana was interviewed on French public television’s Channel 2, she accused the police of killing Black and Arab people every day, gratuitously, just for fun. “The men and women who go to work every morning in the suburbs” are “massacred for no other reason than their skin color,” said the singer.
Then, immediately, an surreal sequence took place: MP Aurélien Taché (LREM, the party of the French President Emmanuel Macron) tweeted:
“Bravo @Camelia_Jordana, but the price you are going to pay will be terrible… you knew that. They are going to deny, then shift, the burden of proof and once again try to make the victims look guilty.”
The news magazine Les Inrockuptibles interviewed the movie maker David Dufresne as an “expert” about the police brutality — he once directed a documentary about the permanent conflict between the youths of the suburbs and the police. Of course, David Dufresne supported Camelia Jordana’s accusations that the singer “expressed the obvious.”
The left-wing magazine L’Obs went one step further in June 2020 by handing the microphone to the Black French Hollywood movie star, Omar Sy. From his Los Angeles villa, Sy “demanded justice for Adama Traoré”, drew a parallel with George Floyd and called for a “police force worthy of our democracy”.
On June 24, Amnesty International published a report denouncing the racism of the police during the Covid lockdown in Europe. On July 19, 2020, the left-wing mayor of Colombes, in Hauts-de-Seine, Patrick Chaimovitch, drew a parallel between the police of Vichy — the French regime that collaborated with the Nazis during the World War II — and today’s police. A psychoanalyst, Gérard Miller, invited people to “think about” Chaimovitch’s remarks, and a journalist, Edwy Plenel, compared the new Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin to René Bousquet, a high-ranking civil servant who organized the Vel d’Hiv raid during World War II and collaborated with the Gestapo.
The media’s suspicion of the illegitimate use of violence by the police is so intense that officers under attack do not even feel permitted to use their gun. Philippe Bilger, an ex-magistrate, writes, “in the face of threats, various jets and physical attacks, they [police] have practically no right to use what the law authorizes them to use,” namely their gun.
The indictment of the French police by the media and the entertainment industry — actors, singers and so on — is also fueled by academics. The police are accused of carrying out “facial checks” — making racist use of their ID control. That idea was launched and fuelled by a study published in 2009 by Fabien Jobard and René Lévy, two sociologists, who stated that police controls are carried out “au faciès” — “not on what people do, but on what they are, or appear to be”. In 2017, the Defender of Rights, a state agency devoted to the defense of the defenseless, publicly took up the charge against the police of racist identity checks. On February 12, Claire Hédon, of Defender of Rights, asked on public radio, France Info, for an end to identity checks in “certain neighborhoods” and for the establishment of “zones without identity checks”.
Claims from entertainers , as well as “studies” by sociologists or by Defender of Rights, cannot be countered — or corroborated — by sociological studies showing that crime is unequally distributed among the different ethnic strata that make up French society. French law prohibits producing any data on criminality by race or ethnic group. This produces a strange situation where it is permissible to accuse the police of racism, but it is forbidden and punishable by law to explain that Black people or North African people are over-represented in prisons and in crime data compared to their demographic presence in the French population.
The media and entertainers’ offensive against the police is so strong that often politicians and members of the government do not dare to oppose these “prosecutors”; cravenly, they side with the entertainers against the police. “Today, when the color of your skin is not white, the risk of being stopped by the police is very big” president Macron told the magazine Brut in December 2020. With code words, the president was telling the French population that the behavior of the police was racist.
Judicial cowards, of course, also side with the chic mob against the police. In 2016, the Court of Cassation ruled that “an identity check based on physical characteristics associated with a real or supposed origin, without any prior objective justification, is discriminatory. It is a serious fault”.
On January 27, 2021, the lawyers of six prominent NGOs launched a group action against the state. They sent a formal notice to French Prime Minister Jean Castex, as well as to Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin and Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti, calling for an end to “facial checks”.
The state has four months to respond to the NGOs’ formal notice and offer proposals. If it does not respond satisfactorily, the group action against the state, the first of its kind in Europe, will go to court.
The French police are not under attack only by French nationals. Powerful international actors have also undertaken to challenge the investigative resources of the police. On October 6, 2020, the EU Court of Justice issued a judgment in three cases (cases C511, C512 and C520/18) relating to the “widespread and indiscriminate retention of traffic and location data” in the electronic communications sector. In other words, to protect the privacy of European citizens, national governments will not be authorized to require a telephone operator to retain (for a few months) customer data. For example, an investigative police officer will no longer be able to obtain — in the near future — detailed data on the telephone calls made and received by a crime suspect, or the GPS coordinates at the time of receiving and making the calls during the previous two months.
As a result, preventing and solving crimes will be much more complex and often impossible. In 90% of the cases, the police only have as a clue the phone numbers that have been listed close to a crime scene. These numbers had helped the police track suspects, like a trail of breadcrumbs.
The forces that today are raging against the police — some of the media, celebrities, “anti-racist” organizations and NGOs, part of the French judiciary, and the European human rights courts, as well as the so-called Human Rights Council of the UN and other international organizations — are all fighting to deprive European states of their power on an essential point: their mission to ensure the security of all citizens. Jean-Eric Schoettl, former Secretary General of the Constitutional Council, wrote:
“Congenitally, judges, commissioners and, for the mostpart, members of the European Parliament reject Europe as a power as much as they challenge national sovereignty. This allergy to the regalian is in the DNA of a Union founded against the very idea of power.”
If this French style of defunding the police succeeds, the so-called anti-racism ideology, set up in the mid-1980s by the left, will prove to be the most effective tool for dismantling states since Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. If the police cannot investigate or protect the public because officers are afraid of being called racists, the security of all citizens is in danger.
Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.
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