Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Macron on brink: Police turns on French president with unprecedented protest rally

France: ‘Unusual’ for police to hold protest says expert

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The discontent within the police will trouble President Emmanuel Macron, who wants to show voters he is strong on law and order ahead of next year’s election. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen is expected to mount the biggest challenge to Mr Macron’s re-election with demands for tougher measures. French police unions have complained that the Government is failing to protect officers from daily attacks that leave some afraid of doing their jobs in certain towns and cities. Some police officers booed the interior minister who turned up in a show of solidarity.

France 24 political editor Marc Perelman said: “It’s unusual for the police to hold such protests in front of the National Assembly and you have many, many politicians.

“The Interior Minister, who is in charge of the police, came briefly and said to the police officers and the demonstrators that he is thinking about them from morning to evening, every day.

“He says, I’m with you, don’t worry.

“Those police officers feel they are not receiving enough support because they don’t have enough weapons, vehicles but also they feel the justice system is not severe enough for people who attack the police.”

One police officer could be heard telling Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin: “This can’t go on any longer. You really need to protect us. It’s getting worse.”

The protest took place after a month-long period that saw a policeman killed during an anti-narcotics operation and a police force employee stabbed to death outside her station.

However, human rights groups and ethnic minority associations have frequently levelled accusations of brutality and systemic racism against the police force itself.

One attack against a Black music producer in November had brought shame on France, President Macron said at the time, demanding the police be exemplary in their own behaviour.

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The unions are demanding a minimum prison sentence for anyone who attacks a police officer.

One protest banner read: “Paid to serve, not to die.”

“No-one listens to us,” lamented a second officer who identified himself as Stephane and said he had travelled from the Mediterranean city of Marseille.

An IPSOS opinion poll this month showed more than half of all police and military personnel would vote for Le Pen in a runoff vote against Macron next year.

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A French police officer was shot dead in the city of Avignon during an anti-narcotics operation, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

The shooter is on the run in Avignon, a police union source said. BFM television reported that the shooter had fled the scene on a kick scooter.

Police union official Vincent Dath told Reuters the officer was shot during a raid on a well-known drug-dealing spot.

“It looks like this is a narcotics affair, not a terror-related attack,” Mr Dath said.

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