A Confederate flag, a racist symbol, appears at the window of a Paris police barracks

A resident of the 17th arrondissement of Paris sent two pictures taken from his window to our editorial staff: we see a Confederate flag hanging on the window of a nearby police station. This symbol is considered racist, even slavery, by many raising questions, while a lively debate about racism in the police agitates French society.The photographs were taken on June 30, at approximately 2 p.m. On the second floor of a building at the police station located at 46 boulevard Bessières, we can clearly see the Confederate flag, which almost completely covers the window.

“In these two photos you will find on the far left of the second floor the Confederate flag (racial symbol) which, in my opinion, has nothing to do in a police barrack,” said the person who transferred the photos to us, of which we have maintained anonymity.

To the right, a photo of the Confederate flag taken in 2010 in Mississippi. This state took it from the top right of its flag, but withdrew it on the 30thJune following a decision by the governor. A gesture aimed at “reconciliation and progress” after George Floyd’s death and the anti-racist uprising that followed. Credit: Flickr / edward stojakovic

We were able to confirm that the photos are valid thanks to the metadata contained in the original files, sent via email. In particular, this metadata indicates the exact coordinates of the location where the photo was taken, the model of smartphone used and the time.

This partial capture of metadata confirms the date the photos were taken and other information from their authors.

We got the picture about an hour after it was taken and went there the next day at 1 July. The flag had then disappeared from the window, visible from the street. A police officer confirmed to us that he was aware of “this story of the flag” and specified that he had not seen anything with his own eyes and that he did not want to make a statement.

On July 1, our editorial staff in Paris contacted the police headquarters to obtain explanations about the flag and to find out if sanctions had been taken. The department did not answer our questions, sent via email, despite several phone reminders. We will publish his response if it reaches us.

A racist symbol

The Confederate flag consists of a red background, a diagonal blue cross and 13 small white stars. They represent the southern states of the United States, slaves, who, during the American civil war, confronted the northern states. Today, the symbolic reach of this flag is not unanimous in the United States, but it is widely seen as the emblem of a racist, even white supremacist and slavery ideology. It was largely massacred by members of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist secret society founded by former Confederate army officers.

After a controversy over the presence of this flag on public buildings in South Carolina after the 2015 Charleston massacre, historian Nicole Bacharan had explained in Liberation newspaper that it was used “especially in demonstrations against black civil rights in the 1960s by all segregationists. […] It is still a crystal clear racist emblem [aux États-Unis], is used by far right groups and sometimes by armed defense groups. “

For the freelance journalist Sebastien Bourdon, a specialist in the extreme degree who is contacted by our editorial staff, this symbol is less known than those referring to Nazi Germany, but it remains often used in identity circles.

When I look at profiles of people connected to the extreme right in France, I see much of this flag hanging on the walls of private homes, during parties and meetings. I have never seen them in these groups’ premises, but very few pictures of these places are filtered. It is a symbol that has been used for a long time in France, from the extreme right in the first place but also by the radical groups of football supporters, as in Nancy. The symbol was even recently raised by one of the foremost identity graffiti artists, La Cagoule.

This drawing, entitled “White Brother”, or “White Brother” in French, was broadcast on March 25 on the Telegram chain by graffiti artist La Cagoule: we see to the right the Confederate flag and to the left a “Totenkopf”, a symbol of ‘a division. by the Waffen-SS.
“It’s probably a reaction to the news”

The display of this flag does not surprise Noam Anouar, divisional delegate of the Vigi Police Association (former CGT police, very minority) and brigadiers in Île-de-France.

This flag is displayed towards the street in a very specific context, it is probably a reaction to the news [les manifestations du mouvement Black Lives Matter liées à la mort George Floyd, NDLR]. But what strikes me most is the widespread impunity. I doubt that the persons responsible for displaying this symbol are then subject to an administrative inquiry condemned the existence of racist drawings and the poster of a Dieudonne show at a police station in Le Mesnil-Amelot 2017, but nothing had happened.

In 2011, his union, then affiliated with CGT, filed a complaint against a CRS company based in Perpignan after discovering a portrait of Hitler in their premises. The complaint had been classified without continuation and the police were determined.
A flag already on other police stations

In 2014 and 2019, photos and videos confirmed the presence of the Confederate flag on various premises of the French police, thus the South American symbol was visible in a photo published on Twitter October 23, 2014 during a visit to the Paris 14earrondissement police station by the then Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Following the controversy, the Paris police headquarters put this “no deal” in perspective, indicating that the display had no political connotation and that it was a fan of the US fan, reports Le Parisien.

In June 2019, a Confederate flag was also discovered Internet users at a police station in Niort, filmed on the occasion ofand a TV report broadcast on France3 Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

In recent weeks, independent online media Street Press and the podcast Arte Radio published messages exchanged in the police Facebook and WhatsApp groups, containing racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and misogynistic comments. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, then replaced by Gérald Darmanin, had then seized the Paris Prosecutor’s Office to investigate “unacceptable words [s’il sont avérés, qui] are likely to seriously undermine the honor of the national police and gendarmerie, whose men and women are employed daily to protect the French, including against racism and discrimination. “

Article written off Liselotte Mas