The streak sparked outrage up to the highest office of the state. In a long text posted on Facebook, Friday, November 27, Emmanuel Macron says that these images “shame us”. These images are those of the beating of Michel Zecler, a 41-year-old black music producer, by three police officers. While it is rare for the Head of State, representing institutions of the Republic, to comment on events involving the police, several members of the majority have also shown their disapproval of the images broadcast these days. last days on social networks, in the midst of a controversy over the “global security” law. Back on a week when police violence put the executive under pressure.
Friday 20 November: the Assembly votes on article 24 of the “comprehensive security” law
At the end of more than four hours of parliamentary debates, the deputies voted in first reading article 24 of the law “global security”. This article, the most controversial of the law, had been amended the night before by the government itself. The text of the law, emanating from the report of two LREM deputies, Alice Thourot and Jean-Michel Fauvergue, on a “safety continuum”, provides for one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros for the dissemination of images of law enforcement agencies in “the manifest intention of harming [leur] physical or mental integrity “.
This offense is practiced “without prejudice to the right to inform”. To reassure the many editorial staff who were opposed to it, the government added this amendment, which was not enough to calm its most fervent detractors.
Saturday, November 21: demonstrators in several French cities
At the request of several journalists’ unions who denounce a “attack on freedom of expression” and to “Right wing state”, several events take place in France. They bring together a total of 22,000 people, according to an AFP count. At 5 p.m., the police headquarters announced that the static demonstration in Paris was over and asked the demonstrators to disperse. Several clashes take place at the end of the procession around 7:30 p.m. Dozens of journalists find themselves stranded in the Place du Trocadéro.
— Hippolyte Radisson (@H_Radisson) November 21, 2020
The police make a total of 23 arrests, according to the report of the police headquarters, out of the 7,000 participants in Paris counted by AFP.
Sunday 22 November: Christophe Castaner’s love letter to journalists
In Le Sunday Newspaper, Christophe Castaner, former Minister of the Interior, and four other LREM deputies sign a platform in which they proclaim “their declaration of love to journalists”. In this letter, it is specified that “the meaning of this article has never changed: better protect the police, without ever infringing the freedom to inform (…). At a time when one can die for a drawing , we wanted to tell you, dear journalists, that we will continue to defend your freedom to write, to produce and to scratch ourselves “, concludes this forum.
For his part, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, shows for the first time his circumspection in the face of the law, on BFMTV. “We cannot prosecute people in French criminal law for an intention, but in reality for an act or for a fact”, he emphasizes. He also ensures that within the executive, “each one expresses himself with his different sensitivity”.
Monday 23 November: migrants are violently evacuated from Place de la République
Still in a concern of appeasement, Gérald Darmanin receives a delegation made up of several journalists’ unions, the Human Rights League (LDH) and the father of Cédric Chouviat, this 42-year-old delivery man who died during an arrest. police on January 3, 2020.
We are received by the Minister of the Interior, in Beauvau at 5.30 p.m. We are awaiting the removal of articles 21, 22 and 24 of the comprehensive security law. A freedom march is scheduled for next Saturday across France. The mobilization intensifies #StopLoiSecuriteGlobal pic.twitter.com/1CBhkYTcVx
– Arié Alimi (@AA_Avocats) November 23, 2020
The meeting turns out to be a failure. “We just left the meeting”, post on Twitter the journalist and activist Taha Bouhafs, present during this interview on place Beauvau. For his part, Gérald Darmanin affirms that, despite the end of negotiations, “his door is always open”.
Today I received representatives of journalists, associations as well as the father of Mr. Chouviat.
I reaffirmed the importance for the government to preserve the freedom of the press while ensuring to the police forces all the protection which we owe them. pic.twitter.com/rnT0n0bBaI
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 23, 2020
The same evening, several hundred migrants set up their tents with the help of humanitarian associations, Place de la République in Paris. Most of these exiles, mostly Afghans, were part of the evacuated camp in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis) on November 17. The action aims to “make those we want to disperse” visible, according to Doctors of the World. Quickly, several dozen police arrived on the scene, at the request of the Minister of the Interior, to evacuate the illegal camp. The event is marked by images of police violence against migrants and journalists, broadcast on social networks.
The little crooked foot just to hurt. The policeman does not even try to stop! But as said #DarmaninDemission, IGPN and #Macron, there is no police violence! #Republique #refugies #PPLSecuriteGlobale #ViolencesPolicieres #StopLoiSecuriteGlobal pic.twitter.com/2opAGvyNHn
– Brains not available (@CerveauxNon) November 24, 2020
It is almost midnight when Gérald Darmanin reacts on Twitter: “Some images of the dispersal of the illegal migrant encampment on Place de la République are shocking “, he writes. He adds that he requested a detailed report from the prefect of police, Didier Lallement. It is the first time that the Minister of the Interior has publicly put pressure on the police since the contested law reached the National Assembly.
Wednesday November 25: Gérald Darmanin asks for accounts
Guest of the “4 truths” on France 2, the Minister of the Interior dissociates himself from the offending police officers. “Those who mess around are punished, but I refuse to punish all the police in France“, declares the minister. He affirms that the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) was seized and must deliver its conclusions “within 48 hours“. Rarely, he commits to “make them public“.
Another sign of unease within the executive, Marlène Schiappa, Minister for Citizenship, and Emmanuelle Wargon, Minister for Housing, publish a press release. “The laws must be fully respected and our solidarity mechanisms for migrants fully mobilized“, they write.
A few hours later, the National Assembly is preparing to vote on the law. Jean Castex, the Prime Minister, tries to calm the spirits and announces before the vote that he will seize the Constitutional Council on article 24 of the law, so that it “clarifies what deserves to be.” The deputies very broadly adopt at first reading the proposed law “comprehensive security” to 388 votes in favor, 104 against and 66 abstentions. Among the “walkers”, the level of protest is high but far from the records: 30 LREM abstained and 10 voted against.
Thursday November 26: indignation after the violent arrest of Michel Zecler
In the morning, the Loopsider media broadcast a video investigation in which we see at least three police officers beat up Michel Zecler, a 41-year-old black music producer, in his Parisian studio. The victim claims in the video that the police called him “dirty nigger” while they punched him several times in the face and body. The images are violent and cause outrage. Brooding for several days, the crack within the presidential majority bursts.
“It is time for the police chief to ensure that those who enforce the law respect it themselves”, claims Stéphane Séjourné, MEP and political advisor to Emmanuel Macron. Richard Ferrand, President of the National Assembly, warns against a “usage” of the force that “undermines the essential bond of trust between citizens and those who protect us and must be sanctioned without weakness”.
Gérald Darmanin affirms that the IGPN was seized by justice on Tuesday. Despite everything, the noose is tightening and it crystallizes the criticisms of the opposition. At the same time, three police officers among the four who violently arrested Théo Luhaka until he was crippled for life, on February 22, 2017 in Aulnay-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis), will be tried at the assizes for ” willful violence “.
In Matignon, Jean Castex announces the establishment of an independent commission responsible for proposing a rewriting of article 24 of the “global security” law. She must return her work “for the end of December”. A few hours later, Gérald Darmanin is the guest of the “20h00” of France 2. As promised, he exposes the provisional conclusions of the IGPN concerning the evacuation of migrants on Monday evening. He is particularly severe. “This commissioner who makes this totally unjustified hook-foot, I will take sanctions against him. I ask for the meeting of the disciplinary council.”
According to IGPN report, on the three facts studied in 48 hours, “two scenes require further investigation”. On the third, the hook-foot, the institution considers that the police officer in question has “committed a breach by disproportionate use of force.”
Concerning the aggression of which Michel Zecler was the victim, again, Gérald Darmanin displays a rare severity. “If justice finds a fault, I will ask for the dismissal of the three police officers.”
Friday November 27: Jean Castex finally gives up an advisory commission
The four police officers implicated in the violent arrest of Michel Zecler are placed in police custody. Among them, three are heard for “racist violence”.
A few hours after Jean Castex’s announcement of the rewriting of article 24 of the law, the presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate stepped up to the plate: “Entrusting such a mission to an external body would constitute an attack on the missions of the Parliament, which alone writes and votes the law”, explains Richard Ferrand. As for the President (LR) of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, he asks the Prime Minister to “to give up its decision to appoint an advisory commission”. With his back to the wall, Matignon finally gives up his idea.
“I confirm to you that the task of proposing a rewriting of a legislative provision will not fall within the scope of this committee, a mission which can only be the responsibility of Parliament”, Jean Castex specifies to Richard Ferrand in a letter. On the eve of a new demonstration in Paris against this law, confusion seems total within the majority. For his part, Emmanuel Macron posted on social networks, Friday evening, a message in which he announces that he is waiting for the police to be “exemplary with the French”.