Paris (AFP) — French police staged protests for a second day Friday over claims of racism in their ranks, assailing top officials for failing to defend the force against allegations amplified by US unrest over the death of George Floyd.
Several dozen officers blocked traffic in a wildcat march down the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, carrying a banner proclaiming: “No police, no peace!”
On Thursday, officers in Lille, Marseille and other cities threw their handcuffs, armbands and other equipment on the ground while standing in formation, with many shouting for the resignation of Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
Castaner infuriated officers this week with a pledge of “zero tolerance” for police racism after some 20,000 people massed at the Paris courthouse on June 2 in an echo of the Black Lives Matter protests in America.
He also said police would no longer be allowed to use chokeholds to detain suspects, a move derided by many officers as an unfeasible concession that could make their jobs more perilous.
“The police are not racist… they save people’s lives no matter the colour of their skin,” Fabien Vanhemelryck, head of the Alliance union, told journalists on Friday.
Patrice Ribeiro of the Synergie union charged: “We’re being spit on, and why? Because at the highest level of the government they’re afraid of a noisy minority.”
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