Thursday, 21 January, 2021


#MarchesDesLibertes: Massive Protests Erupt in France Over Police Brutality

Paris Public Prosecutor French magistrate Remy Heitz holds a press conference concerning the four police officers who were detained Sunday in the brutal beating of a Black music producer Video of police beating Black man 'shame us,' French president says
Bennie Garza | 02 December, 2020, 09:53

French politicians say they will totally rewrite part of a controversial security bill amid national outrage over a police assault on a black man.

One of the most controversial elements of the new law is Article 24, which would criminalise the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their "physical or psychological integrity".

Media organisations and human rights groups held rallies in dozens of cities, including Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon.

Two were kept behind bars, while the other two were put on conditional release, the source added. They clashed with police, who fired tear gas.

Among those hurt was an award-winning Syrian photojournalist, Ameer al-Halbi, 24, seen with a bruised face and much of his head covered in bandages in AFP photos. Three were also charged with fabricating their statements on the incident.

Al-Halbi was unable to get to hospital for several hours, and said he was reminded of being in the Syrian civil war in his hometown.

Tomosz Michalski, associate professor of Economics and Decision Sciences Department at HEC Paris, a business school, said while the security law was a target for the protest, the worsening economic situation for some hit disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic is another. The fourth is being questioned on suspicion of using violence but is not accused of racism.

The video contradicted police reports, which initially charged with Zecler with resisting arrest.

Mr Heitz said the officers would be charged with intentional violence with weapons, the use of racist language, falsifying police records, violation of a private home and intentional damage to a private home.

On Nov. 21, Michel Zecler, a black musical producer, was walking in the 17th district of the French capital without a mask, violating the state-backed health protocol.

Police also claimed that the studio smelled strongly of cannabis, though only a small quantity of the medication was discovered in a suitcase during a subsequent search. Lawyers for the group of three declined to comment after the magistrate's decision early Monday morning.

Commentators said the images of the beating - first published by the Loopsider news site - might never have been made public if the contentious Article 24 of the security legislation had been law.

The Bill, which the Lower House of Parliament passed last week, still needs to be considered by the Senate, and the government faces mounting pressure to rewrite it.

The controversy over the law and police violence is developing into another crisis for the government as Macron confronts the pandemic, its economic fallout and a host of problems on the global stage.

President Emmanuel Macron said in a Facebook post Friday that the images of Zecler's beating "shame us", and he urged the French government to devise new protocols that would "reaffirm the link of confidence that should naturally exist between the French and those who protect them".

Mr Macron swept to power in 2017 as a centrist who rallied support from across the political spectrum. 'We have had times where we have modified or even removed articles, ' she told France Inter radio.

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