Cascading revelations about racism in the French police, Castaner takes legal action

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner went to court on Friday following the publication of several press articles revealing racist messages from French police. Despite their ban, further protests against racism took place on Saturday.

Several thousand protesters gathered on Saturday night at the Esplanade du Champ de Mars, defying the demonstration ban, like the 20,000 people who protested Tuesday night, in front of the House of Paris, in memory of Adama Traoré, a young black man who died during his 2016 arrest.

Families of victims of police violence joined in a group that was invited to “go on the Champ de Mars, respect barrier guests, take a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower” with hashtags #LaisseNousRespirer, #JusticePourToutesLesVictimes and #PasDeJusticePasDePaix. The organizers demand “to strengthen the international solidarity movement against police impunity”.

>> Read: The death of Adama Traore: 20,000 protesters gather in Paris

Hundreds of people have already gathered in Paris in peace, Saturday afternoon, place de la Concorde since rue Royale, blocked by police trucks. Friday night, another demonstration, also banned because of the restrictions imposed by the health crisis in Covid-19, took place in Strasbourg. Several thousands of young people dressed in black gathered in the heart of the Alsatian city to pay tribute to George Floyd, saying no to racism and condemning police violence. Other meetings also took place in Rouen, Caen and Clermont-Ferrand.

The anger that has been brewed in many countries since the death in Minneapolis by this 46-year-old black American associated with a white police officer is particularly strong in France, where the police are also accused of racism. In 2016, in particular, the Cassation Court sentenced the state to “face checks” regularly performed by the police.

Several media published the content, on Thursday, June 4, many racist messages shared by French police on a Facebook group or on a private Whatsapp messages.

“The stinky gauchis and immigrants … Like Trump, he said lead!”

information Page Street Press revealed the existence of the Facebook group “TN Rabiot Police Official” which would be reserved for the police. Visible on the social network and it shows 7,760 members.

According to the screenshots published by the site, a large number of hateful, racist, sexist and homophobic messages are exchanged there. Some describe singer Camélia Jordana, who recently condemned police violence, as a “dirty whore”. Others mock openly the death of the young Zyed and Bouna 2005, from Sabri to Argenteuil on May 17, or from Kémyl to Montigny-lès-Cormeilles on May 27.

The latest news, and in particular the June 2 demonstration in front of the Paris Parliament, also inspired the members of the group. “Always the same shit that defies all the bans in this country. The stinky gauchi and immigrants who won’t even make 1/10 of this at home! Like Trump, he said lead!”, We can read in the comment with reference to the tweet from the US President posted online after the Minneapolis outbreak.

The publication of these communications prompted Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to take legal action the following day. The latter had promised Wednesday a “penalty” for “every mistake, every excess, every word, including racist expressions” within the police. The Parliament’s Prosecutor’s Office therefore opened, on Friday, 5 June, a preliminary investigation, entrusted to the Brigade for the Suppression of Crime Against the Person (BRDP), for “general insult of racial character” and “public provocation for racial hatred”.

>> To read: Adama, Théo, Zyed and Bouna … Why didn’t these cases trigger a French “Black Lives Matter”?

“If proven, these unacceptable comments are likely to seriously damage the honor of the police and the national gendarmerie,” commented one in the minister’s entourage.

“We are stuck in F, F as a fachosphere”

Other comments, racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic, were detailed, Thursday, June 4, by media Party and Arte Radio. These calls were first revealed in mid-January by websites Paris-Normandie and 76actu, refers to Rouen police officers who exchanged audio messages on a private WhatsApp group. Their remarks were particularly directed at one of their colleagues, Black, who was able to consult their discussions.

The latter warned his hierarchy and filed complaints against six of his colleagues, at the end of December 2019, for “non-public provocation to discrimination”, “non-public defamation on grounds of origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion” and “non-public name calling due to origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion”. Facts that can lead to a simple infringement of up to EUR 1,500.

Some audio recordings have been published by Mediapart and Arte Radio. Police members of this WhatsApp group exchange freely and define themselves as “racist nationalists” or even as “fascists”. “We are in file F, F as a fachosphere,” joked one of them. On this group they comment on the inner life of the Rouen police as well as the national news.

“What surprises me the most are firefighters who will extinguish a fire and the bitches to the left of the shit prevent them from doing so. No. Shot in the head. Because you are crap to the left” You deserve to die. There you go. Putin, he would take care of your face quickly done well. So strong the civil war. Deeply collapses. And I think it’s not just the diversity that will take loved ones. I think left as well. We will really need to eliminate these bitches, ”we can hear in particular.

Mediapart’s investigation reveals that in early June, the police who filed the complaint were still not questioned by the judicial system and that the investigation by the National Police General Inspectorate (IGPN) is still ongoing. However, Director General of the National Police (DGPN), Frédéric Veaux, confirmed on Thursday, June 4, the next passage in these police disciplinary councils.