French police unions call for ‘total blockage’ over Macron’s plan to tackle discrimination

Two of France's largest police unions have called on their members to stop performing ID checks or even arrests after President Emmanuel Macron laid out a plan to deal with discrimination and violence by police.

French police unions call for 'total blockage' over Macron's plan to tackle discrimination
French police. Illustration photo: AFP

In a wide-ranging interview, the president admitted that there was a problem with police violence in France and with racism, although he added: “I have no problem repeating the term 'police violence' but I deconstruct it, because it has become a slogan for people who have a political project.”

His comments come after France was shocked by the emergence of CCTV footage of police officers savagely beating a black music producer in Paris – the officers then lied on their statements and charged the man with attacking them. Since the emergence of the footage, four officers have been suspended and charged in relation to the assault.


Advocacy groups have long said there is a problem with racism and violence from a minority of officers, particularly in relation to contrôles d'identité – ID checks.

Macron told the interview with Brut: “Today, when you have a skin colour that is not white, you are much more likely to be stopped […] You are identified as a problem factor and this is unsustainable.”

The French state's official 'colourblind' policy means that no data is collected on the race of people who are stopped and searched or arrested, but several studies including one published in 2017 by the French Human Rights Defender Jacques Toubon suggests that people of colour are more likely to be stopped by police than white people.

READ ALSO Is France really 'colourblind' or just blind to racism?

Macron announced the creation of a platform by which people could report discrimination by police, although no detail has been released on how this would work.

But the announcement was enough to trigger the fury of two of France's largest police unions, Alliance and Unité SGP, who immediately issued calls on social media for their members to stop performing any ID checks or responding to call-outs.


“You decide to discriminate and cloister people in the suburbs and then make us pay for it? No. It won't happen like that,” said a statement from the Unité SGP union, calling for a 'total blockade'.

The Alliance Union called on its members to stop all identity checks, saying “The presumption of guilt of racism and facial control will not take place.”


It is not the first time that attempts from politicians to examine the problem of police violence have sparked anger from unions, in June former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tried to ban the controversial 'chokehold' technique, and announced plans to suspend officers accused of misconduct.

Police unions responded by organising multiple demonstrations in which officers threw their handcuffs on the ground and the government later backtracked.

READ ALSO How did France's relationship with its own police get to bad?

Over the weekend thousands of people took to the streets for a third weekend of protest over France's controversial new security bill. The demo in Paris ended in serious violence from Black Bloc hooligans and close to 100 people were arrested.


Following widespread protests, the government has said it will 'rewrite' the most controversial section of the bill, Article 24 which would make it illegal to publish identifiable images of police officers if there is “manifest intent to harm their physical or mental integrity” – critics say the vagueness of the bill is open to abuse.

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France’s Le Pen ordered to stand trial in EU funding scandal

French prosecutors on Friday ordered far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen to stand trial over claims she used EU funds to finance party activities in France.

France's Le Pen ordered to stand trial in EU funding scandal

The former presidential candidate will in March be joined by 26 other members of the Rassemblement National (RN) party in the dock, all accused of setting up a system for embezzling EU money to hire staff in France.

The fake jobs inquiry began in 2015, with prosecutors alleging that starting in 2004, National Front (as the party was then called) MEPs including Le Pen took part in the fake jobs scheme.

The accused include Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the co-founder of what became France’s most successful far-right party.

The party itself, as a legal entity, is suspected of receiving illicit funds, and of complicity in fraud.

Marine Le Pen was runner-up to Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections and could have another go in 2027. She was president of her party until 2021, and now leads its parliamentary group.

The charges against her are embezzlement and collusion in fraud.

The decision to go to trial was taken by two investigating magistrates from France’s financial crimes prosecuting unit.

The group is accused of using EU parliamentary funds to pay for assistants who in fact worked for the Rassemblement National party.

Le Pen, who stepped down as an MEP in 2017 after her election to the French parliament, has denied the claims.

The charges carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to double the alleged funds embezzled.

If convicted, the court could also declare Le Pen ineligible for office for up to 10 years – threatening her plan to make a fourth run for the French presidency.

The EU Parliament estimated in 2018 that €6.8 million had been embezzled from 2009 to 2017.