Police brutality in France

The recent horrifying terrorist attacks in France have reportedly led – some might say, with gloomy predictability – to an increase in police brutality against Muslim and black people within its borders.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch separately produced reports detailing what they describe as ‘abusive and discriminatory raids’ against Muslim people in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Those targeted said the police burst into homes, restaurants, or mosques; broke people’s belongings; threw Qurans on the floor; terrified children; and placed restrictions on people’s movements so severely that they lost jobs and income, or suffered physically…
In one house raid, Human Rights Watch said, police broke four of a disabled man’s teeth before they realised he was not the person they were looking for…
In another case recorded by Amnesty, police forced open the door of an elderly man with heart problems, causing him to faint. He was later taken to hospital in an ambulance, while his daughters – one of whom is disabled – were handcuffed and screamed at by officers.

You can read more from Aljazeera here.

Residents of the Calais refugee camp, known as The Jungle, also suffer at the hands of the police. The violence has noticeably increased after the terrorist attacks, with what reports describe as ‘civil militias’ now involved too.

In Paris, a couple of months ago, Adama Traore, a young black man, died in police custody. The ‘official’ version of events has been variously that he had a heart attack, that he had a serious infection, that he was intoxicated, that he suffered from previous health problems. But an independent autopsy carried out on the instructions of his family show that he died from asphyxia. Blood test results show that he was not intoxicated at the time of his death. His family say he had no long-standing health conditions, and was beaten to death by the police. Sound familiar?

Then last week, Sorbonne professor Guillame Vadot was attacked by the police for filming their mistreatment of a young woman (not white, of course) in the train station he was passing through, who didn’t have a ticket. Police officers snatched his phone, pinned him to a wall, and threatened to kill and rape him. One of them groped him. Vadot is filing a report with the General Inspector of the National Police Force for ‘abuse of power, willful acts of violence, sexual assault, rape threats and injuries’. In so doing he wishes to draw attention primarily

to all those who are subjected to this kind of brutality within this context. [An attack such as his] is the result of the laws and regulations put in place in the past few months, which have given the police a sense of impunity… We cannot consider this to be normal, we are not going to get used to it.