Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

Something is Rotten in France

by Leon Kunstenaar
French police kill 17 year old youth of Algerian background at traffic stop
National outrage at this killing has so far resulted in physical attacks on mayors and thousands of buildings, including city halls, schools, and police and fire stations, set on fire. Over 1000 businesses large and small have been looted, thousands of cars have been burned. 45,000 police have been mobilized. There have been thousands of arrests.

But not to worry. French President Emmanuel Macron knows why. He has blamed video games and told parents to keep their kids at home more. As in this country, the right immediately frames revolts against an unjust society with proxy issues such as "for or against violence", "support for the police", etc. Spokespeople who bring up the politics of the powerlessness of marginalized people are accused of promoting violence, disloyalty, etc. The violence of the continual injustices against the marginalized are ignored while the violence of the consequent revolt is condemned.

Sadly, the concerted attempt by the government, the mainstream media and right wing politicians to reframe the issue as about violence and away from social justice seems to be working. A "gofundme" account to assist the accused policeman has now exceeded one million euros. The initiator of the account has been sued by the family of the victim. Interestingly, under French law, it is illegal to pay a fine for someone found guilty of committing a crime.

The police agent who pulled the trigger is under detention. Referring to many demands of "Justice for Nahel" his lawyer has stated "what else do they want? the suspect is in prison". The answer is, of course, that the riots are not about one policeman and one victim but a revolt against a society where a significant segment of the population is marginalized. If your name is of Arab or Algerian origin or if your address is in the "wrong" area your educational or employment opportunities are severely limited and your chances of being rudely "controlled" (stopped for id checks) by the police are much greater.

Immigrants to France from the countries that France plundered and colonized in the 19th and 20h centuries are relegated to living in the "banlieux" (outskirts) of major cities and are seen by the "forces of order" (yes, that's what French mainstream media call the police) as an alien enemy to be controlled. France's largest police union has explicitly said that the police are "at war" against an "enemy". In reply, French leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has noted that if you are at war, your job is to kill the enemy as a soldier, not maintain public order as police.

The police as an institution of the French State is being viewed in an ever increasing critical light. In the past eighteen months there have been sixteen fatal interaction with the police in France with its population of 63 million. In Germany with a population of 80 million, the count of fatal police interactions in the past ten years is ... one.

Adding to distrust of the police is their performance during the yellow vest protests and then during the retirement age protests where police caused injuries and fatalities were excessive. In 2017 a law that considerably loosened rules on police use of force was passed but with no corresponding changes in police training.

The continuing major protests are having a cumulative effect, leaving an accumulation of bitterness between the Macron government and large segments of French people. A situation that Macron and his friends in the corporate elite seem unable, must less inclined to address. At some point the bowl will overflow.

Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$60.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network