President Emmanuel Macron called for reaffirming “the link of confidence that should naturally exist between the French and those who protect them.”
President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, in Paris on Thursday after a ceremony honoring a French Resistance fighter who died last week.Credit…Pool photo by Michel Euler
By The Associated Press
- Published Nov. 27, 2020Updated Dec. 4, 2020
PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Friday that video images showing police officers beating a Black man “shame us,” and he condemned violence both by and against the police.
Mr. Macron asked the government to quickly come up with proposals “to reaffirm the link of confidence that should naturally exist between the French and those who protect them” and to better fight discrimination.
Mr. Macron’s public remarks, posted on Facebook, were his first since apparently unwarranted use of force by the police was spotlighted in two recent episodes. Video that surfaced on Thursday showed the beating, days earlier, of a Black music producer, Michel Zecler. That followed the brutal police evacuation Tuesday of migrants in a Paris plaza, also documented on video.
Mr. Zecler said in an interview with The Associated Press that the officers had hurled insults at him, including a very strong racist epithet. He insisted that he had no idea why the police went after him.
The incidents come amid controversy over a new French security law, particularly an article that would make it a crime to publish images of officers with intent to cause them harm. Civil liberties groups and journalists are concerned that the measure will allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished. Protests are planned around France on Saturday.
In his Facebook message, Mr. Macron said he believed the police should treat the public in an “exemplary” fashion, and vice versa. That means, he said, that he would “never” accept either violence against the police or violence by them.
“Those who ensure the law is applied must respect the law,” he said.
Mr. Macron, apparently responding to criticism about his perceived heavy-handedness with the news media, stressed that he ardently believed in freedom of expression and freedom of the press. “The values of the Republic are not negotiable,” he said.
The officers involved in Mr. Zecler’s beating were suspended during an internal police investigation.