France: Protests by disgruntled police and angry activists

Jun 17, 2020

A few hundred police officers have put down their handcuffs at Paris police headquarters to demand better working conditions

PARIS (AP) — As anger mounted over brutal French arrests, a few hundred police officers put down their handcuffs at Paris police headquarters Wednesday to demand better working conditions.

Police unions organized a protest on the island in central Paris that’s also home to Notre Dame Cathedral, and officers said they wanted France's interior minister to resign.

The demonstration was the latest of a string of actions by disgruntled French police in response to recent protests around France against police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the United States.

Another gathering is planned in Paris on Wednesday by supporters of a nurse who was dragged through the dirt by police during a march by medical workers. In video footage of the incident circulating widely online, the woman calls repeatedly for her inhaler, and her forehead is bloodied. The CGT union says one of the nurse's ribs was broken, and activists say the incident is part of a pattern of disproportionate use of force by police.

French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye defended the nurse's arrest, alleging she had thrown a projectile and had a history of aggressive acts.

“The arrest was carried out based on the woman’s prior behavior,” Ndiaye said.

French police unions won a victory this week when the government backed down from banning the use of chokeholds during arrests. The Interior Ministry said police will start experimenting with expanded stun-gun use.