FRENCH workers and youth have risen up against the Macron-military police dictatorship and on Saturday launched massive attacks on the capitalist state’s police forces from one end of the country to the other.
The last straw, after numerous racist attacks on immigrants, was the determination of the Macron regime to bring in a new French law making it illegal to photograph a police officer.
The new legislation, passed at the French parliament’s lower chamber last Tuesday, criminalises the display of images of police officers. Workers and youth responded by rising up on Saturday, and launching fireworks at the police, in Paris and other cities, who were deployed to restore order.
French TV has been full of pictures of police officers being violently beaten by protesters! The Paris Police Prefecture stated that at least 23 police officers have suffered injuries amid the uprising. Nationwide, at least 37 officers have sustained injuries, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
The dictatorial law passed by the French parliament’s lower house on Tuesday imposes a one-year imprisonment term and a fine of 45,000 euros for the distribution of images of police officers that could ‘potentially lead to their physical and psychological harm’.
In response thousands took to the streets of France – from Paris to Marseille. In Paris, fires were lit in the Place de la Bastille as police officers tried to restore order using tear gas and batons. Huge crowds of workers and youth fought running battles with the police.
The crowds of workers and youth are demanding that four police officers face criminal charges after beating up Michel Zecler, a black music producer, a week ago, and are jailed for life.
Some 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the interior ministry said. ‘Today’s demonstration is a legal one, but it has turned very violent,’ said a CRS riot police officer at the scene. ‘We have come under attack from anarchist groups, and many of them are attacking property too.’
Thousands also took part in other marches in some 70 towns and cities in France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier and Nantes. As the rioting intensified on Saturday evening, the ‘terrifying video’ showed officers from a CDI-CSI public order unit being set upon by a group of protesters.
‘They were hit repeatedly with iron bars, and then forced on to the ground, where they were kicked,’ said an eye witness to the violence in the Place de la Bastille. An office belonging to Banque de France (the country’s central bank) was pictured ablaze with a group of protesters standing outside.
Last Thursday, France football star Kylian Mbappe was among those who joined fellow World Cup winners to condemn institutional racism. Referring to the film of Michel Zecler being assaulted, Mbappe wrote on Twitter: ‘Unbearable video, unacceptable violence. Say no to racism.’
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is now singing a different tune saying he would press for the dismissal of all the officers involved, saying they had ‘soiled the uniform of the republic’. Despite this, he has vowed to press on with the new legislation.
The crowd has learnt its lesson: A common refrain is: ‘There were all those protests in the summer against police violence, and this law shows the government didn’t hear us … It’s the impunity. That’s what makes us so angry.’
‘Police everywhere, justice nowhere’ and ‘police state’ and ‘smile while you are beaten’ were among the slogans brandished as protesters marched from the Place de la Republique to the nearby Place de la Bastille.
Workers described being repeatedly stopped by police for identity checks in the metro or while going to school, while white friends were allowed to pass. ‘We ask ourselves when will this stop?’
‘The police violence has left Emmanuel Macron facing a political crisis,’ said the Le Monde daily in the understatement of the century. We have felt for a long time to have been the victim of institutionalised racism from the police,’ said Mohamed Magassa 35 years, who works in a reception centre for minors. ‘But now we feel that this week all of France has woken up,’ he said.
Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24, but he backtracked immediately after hearing from angry lawmakers that he must stand fast.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and France have signed a new agreement on measures aimed at reinforcing the fight against ‘illegal migration’ via the English Channel, specifically by increasing the number of French coastline officers and better equipping them, the UK Home Office said in a press release on Saturday. The agreement was signed by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
The French and UK workers must also unite to smash capitalism in France and the UK and to go forward to the Socialist United States of Europe.