PARIS • French police marched in protest along the Champs Elysees boulevard to the Interior Ministry in Paris yesterday, accusing the government of scapegoating law enforcement agencies as public anger over race discrimination swells.
There were other protests late on Thursday in numerous towns and cities across France after a meeting between police unions and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner meant to try and allay the discontent among police.
In the Paris suburb of Bobigny, officers lined up outside a police station and placed their handcuffs on the ground. In Lyon, police parked their cars around the central Place Bellecour, blue lights flashing.
The unions accuse French President Emmanuel Macron and his government of showing disrespect after Mr Castaner on Monday promised “zero tolerance” for racism within law enforcement agencies and banned a chokehold used to detain suspects.
Said Mr Fabien Vanhemelryck of the National Police Alliance: “Colleagues can’t take this any more.”
Police union vehicles in the convoy carried posters reading “No police, no peace”. Another contained graphic images of injuries sustained by police officers attacked in the line of duty, with the words: “Who is massacring whom?”
Mr Vanhemelryck said: “We need to be protected, respected, supported. The police are never above the law, but they should never be left below the law.”
He said the police were being unfairly treated to calm the public. He added that the unions told Mr Castaner “to stop buying social peace… where we appease a certain part of the population at the expense of the police”.
A Black Lives Matter protest is planned in Paris for today. Police urged restaurants, shops and businesses between the upscale Place de la Republique and Opera areas to close and board up their windows due to the risk of civil disorder.