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French police under investigation for leaked racist comments

Issued on: 06/06/2020 – 17:24Modified: 06/06/2020 – 17:24

Leaked comments from a private Facebook group for police officers have fuelled outrage over racism among French law enforcement.

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Even as Black Lives Matter protests have swelled in France, alongside those taking place around the world, online media outlet SteetPress on Thursday published contents from a private Facebook group reserved for police officers.

Members of the group repeatedly used racist and sexist terms, and mocked victims of police brutality.

“If the facts are proven to be true, these comments are unacceptable and seriously damage the honour of the police,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.

Castaner pledged on Wednesday that “every mistake, every excess, every word including racist expressions” by police would be “the subject of an investigation, a decision, a punishment”.

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation on Friday.

In a separate case, a black police officer filed a complaint against six white colleagues in December 2019 after discovering an abundance of racist messages on the private Whatsapp group, often concerning him.

The officers involved will face a disciplinary hearing, national police chief Frédéric Veaux told AFP on Thursday.

"The French police isn't racist," he said. "It suffers from behaviour which in no way corresponds to the republican values it defends."

Government officials say incidents of racism are the deplorable actions of individuals, whereas critics say there is a systemic problem.

Protest banned

Protesters gathered late Saturday afternoon near the Eiffel Tower in Paris using the slogans, "Let us breathe" and "No justice, no peace", echoing the words used since George Floyd's death sparked demonstrations across the US.

French authorities had tried to ban an earlier demonstration against police brutality Saturday in front of the US embassy in Paris, citing a coronavirus restriction on gatherings of more than 10 people. That demonstration went ahead despite the ban. Police barricades kept protesters from approaching the embassy, however.

Calls for new demonstrations in France followed a tense 20,000-strong rally in Paris on Tuesday to commemorate the death of black 24-year-old Adama Traoré, who died in police custody in 2016. His death has long been a rallying cause for critics of the FrenchRead More – Source