Police rallies in France after the Pont-Neuf affair

Sarah Meyssonnier via Reuters

French police officers from the Alliance union gathered during a demonstration to defend “self-defense and the presumption of self-defence of the police” near the Paris courthouse on Monday May 2.

POLICE – “To be sentenced or to be killed?”: more than a thousand police officers demonstrated this Monday, May 2 in France at the call of several unions to protest against the indictment for “intentional homicide” of their colleague who killed two men who allegedly forced a check last week in Paris.

In Paris, between 800 and 1,000 officials, according to a police source, gathered in Place Saint-Michel, very close to the old courthouse and the Pont-Neuf, where the police officer opened fire. “It could have ended like this, self-defense for our colleague”, could be read on signs, with the photo of a body in a morgue or that of a coffin covered with a blue white red flag.

“If he hadn’t fired, he could have been killed. He saved his colleagues and this is how he is thanked”, told AFP Yvan Assioma, national secretary for Île-de-France of the Alliance union, at the initiative of the call to demonstrate which joined Synergy and Unsa-Police.

“We cannot treat a police officer as a delinquent”, added Olivier Varlet, secretary general of Unsa. “We are asking for a specialized jurisdiction so that there is a common position of magistrates on the use of arms”.

“We don’t ask for a license to kill. Shooting is not trivial, it has a huge psychological impact”, explained Amandine, a police officer from Hauts-de-Seine. “There is a refusal to comply every thirty minutes. What is acceptable? Get rolled over?”.

In Paris, about fifteen activists against police violence gathered in front of the police and held up posters: “politicians at the boot of Alliance, enough is enough!!!” or “L435-1 = weapon of mass destruction”, in reference to the article of the internal security code governing the use of weapons by police officers.

The main police union did not follow the call to demonstrate

On the night of 24 to 25 April, a police officer from the City Security Company (CSC), armed with an assault rifle, opened fire on the driver of a car and his passenger who had allegedly tried to evade control. They died on the spot and a third man, also a passenger in the vehicle, was injured.

The 24-year-old peacekeeper was indicted, in particular for “intentional homicide” concerning the driver. While union elections are scheduled for the end of 2022, this case has exacerbated tensions between representatives of the peacekeepers.

The Union SGP Police Unit, competitor of Alliance, has thus decided not to call for demonstrations and not to “take positions that could harm” the colleague under investigation, recalling that he is presumed innocent.

At the podium, the secretary general of Alliance Fabien Vanhemelryck repeated that “the problem of the police is justice”, a controversial formula pronounced almost a year ago during a rally in front of the Assembly national. At the time, 35,000 police officers gathered near the Palais-Bourbon, at the call of all their unions.

Gatherings all over France

The Syndicat de la magistrature (SM, ranked on the left) and the Union Syndicale des Magistrates (majority) respectively denounced an attack on the rule of law and “a call to demonstrate (…) harmful and dangerous in a democracy ”.

The call to demonstrate was followed in forty cities across the country, according to the unions. In Bordeaux and Lyon, a few hundred police officers gathered in front of the court. “It’s not easy to be a police officer, magistrates very often read the minutes, they are behind a desk, when we are in dangerous situations”, underlines Adrien Lopez, 41, a policeman from Lyon.

In Strasbourg, around 80 police officers, some from Nancy, Metz or Mulhouse, gathered in the middle of the day in front of the police station. Some carried “guilty of being a cop” placards, as well as targets attached to their clothes.

In Rennes and Lille, they were around forty, in Toulouse around fifty. ‘”, estimated Antoine Davy, departmental secretary of the Unsa Police in Haute-Garonne.

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