French police protest against accusations of racism
Paris - French police officers held a small overnight protest at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris amid police anger over what they call unfair accusations of racism and brutality.
A few dozen officers lay their handcuffs on the ground and surrounded the landmark with patrol cars, blue lights flashing to call attention to their cause, in images broadcast on French media and shared on social networks. Police unions held similar protests last week.
The Arc de Triomphe action came hours after at least 15 000 people demonstrated across town against racial injustice and police violence targeting minorities. The protest was among many in France in recent weeks inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd’s death in the US.
In response to those protests, the French government on Monday banned police chokeholds and promised new efforts to root out racism in police ranks.
Police unions have pushed back, saying they need tools to apprehend unruly suspects and that painting the force as systemically racist risks worsening tensions in ethnically diverse neighborhoods. They also say they feel abandoned by a government they defended against violent yellow vest protesters.
The Arc de Triomphe was a flashpoint of tensions between police and protesters during the yellow vest anti-government movement for economic justice in 2018-2019.