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Discussion in 'Personal' started by Vince_Ulam, Apr 19, 2018.
The M25 is a very safe road as you only occasionally reach those high speeds.
The French police do seem quite intimidating and Ive seen them in action roughing up suspects in Paris in a way ive never seen in London. When watching French TV dramas like Spiral and Crimson Rivers, a few slaps and punches in interrogations seem pretty normal. I dont know anywhere near as much about French policing as you do, but is fiction anywhere like reality ? Despite you saying the Met Police being a law to themselves, its not like that at all IMO.
But they’re fictions Burajda, that’s why, they certainly do not purport to portray the reality of a police station in 21st century France, not Spiral anyhow (I’ve never seen Crimson Rivers). Their goals and general orientation belong to entertainment and dramatisation, as series do. Apart from a few genuine-ish (non-technical) characteristics, Spiral doesn’t deal with facts and is largely removed from the spheres of real-life in terms of police brutality or procedure for instance.
It’s very important to bear in mind that, however well acted and “authentic-looking”, Spiral is absolutely not a documentary, While it may offer vaguely valuable insights in parts, it is fictional (which isn’t to say that it doesn’t contain a degree of truth, or partial truth, particularly on the subject of the banlieues). Nobody (or maybe a tiny number of people) gets beaten up inside police stations in France, no more than they do in the UK, although it did happen in the past as “old school” methods could be far rougher.
Periods of custody in France (“Garde à vue”, of which there are 800,000 a year) for criminal matters are filmed now, not just recorded but actually filmed, usually via a webcam (“Pendant la garde à vue, de nombreux interrogatoires vont se dérouler afin d’interroger le suspect. Dans le cas d’affaires criminelles, ces interrogatoires devront être filmés.”) certainly the sort of cases you see in Spiral would be filmed (drugs, human trafficking, organised crime etc. although it’s fair to say that Seasons 1 to 3 of Spiral predate the obligation to film police interrogation) and a solicitor’s presence during the whole questioning process has been compulsory since 2011 (before that it was only partial), so the likelihood of police brutality inside a police station is very marginal. Otherwise solicitors would have a field day lodging complaints and going to the media (partly in order to render the police procedure null and void, partly to highlight police misconduct) and the police officer(s) involved would be in trouble as there’d be evidence, and no police station (and their bosses) wants adverse publicity and Internal Affairs poking their noses into their business as it reflects badly on them and whatever practices are tolerated under their watch. Police officers are easily identifiable within a police station questioning context, it’s not like in a demonstration for instance where, sadly, pretty much anything goes as it's covered by a different set of laws.
Therefore, we must distinguish two things here:
- what happens inside commissariats (police stations) – where it's now every much above board, as things are recorded, filmed, solicitors present etc. AND done by ordinary police officers (who, by and large, are far less thuggish that too many CRS, the riot police, a more aggressive type of police)
- what happens outside, on patrols, on the street, during house arrests, drug busts and so on (sometimes done by the BAC, the anti-crime squad, some of whom are well-known to be overly aggressive and violent, a minority of course but as I wrote in my previous post but a minority that benefits from too much impunity IMO) or demonstrations where the CRS feel that they can get away with far more, especially in a demo context, as they are “anonymous” and have the law & order legislation on their side (“legitimate violence” is allowed to fight the demonstrators if the situation is volatile or degenerates - police violence in this case is much easier to legitimise for the police than in a police station where the suspect might be handcuffed, where the procedure is filmed and a solicitor present at all times, except in the police cell during rest periods).
I don’t have a breakdown of the 200 complaints received in 2015 against the police for violence (my previous post) but I am pretty certain that 95% of them relate to arrests (that go wrong) and CRS shenanigans during demonstrations or social movement protests (such as the Nuit Debout movement in 2016), be it a fully-fledged demonstration or other forms of protest.
Of course, some CRS in particular are gratuitously violent, we’ve seen that during the GJ protests but sadly it’s hardly new. Accountability in the police towards demonstrators isn’t unfortunately very high in the hierarchy of priorities.
Where Spiral is reasonably authentic is on banlieues unrest (I mentioned it in the 2nd para of my previous post but thought I'd expand on it a little). For instance in one Spiral episode (season 6 I think) we saw a gang of youths attack a police station and in another one some thugs tried to firebomb a police car I think (unless I’m getting mixed up with Braquo). Anyway, it’s reasonably close to reality, this kind of thing happens regularly in the Paris area, not as dramatically as it does on Spiral but it does happen (at least once a year), not 100s of youths as in Spiral but small groups, eg
Champigny : le commissariat attaqué
A French police officer is in a life-threatening condition a day after a group of youths pelted petrol bombs at his patrol car near a housing estate outside Paris
Essonne: le commissariat des Ulis attaqué au cocktail Molotov
Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Poste de police attaqué
Incidentally, the self-control and defence technique of this police officer as him and his female colleague were being viciously attacked in Paris (unrelated incident to the one above - 2nd link above) while in their car (which is rapidly fire-bombed) is remarkable:
The pieces of s.hit who did that were eventually identified and arrested: https://www.20minutes.fr/paris/2133723-20170919-video-voiture-incendiee-quai-valmy-agresseurs-presumes-kung-fu-cop-devant-justice
As suspected originally, they were members of the ultra left and Black Bloc movement which has been very active in France in the last decade (whenever there’s been street protests or 1st May march for Workers’ Day – 1st May marches are supposed to be peaceful but they have tended to degenerate of late, In Paris anyhow and Nantes too where for the last decade, 100 of Black Blocs and anarchist have been based, well, nearby, at the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project “commune” – Macron decided to scrap the project last year so they’ve now more or less vanished off the site. Not all “Zadistes” - those occupying the land where the airport was supposed to be built - were violent ultra left t.wats of course but those who regularly ransacked Nantes city centre – attacking banks, official buildings etc. – certainly were).
The people who fire-bombed the police car turned out to be an international bunch (French, Swiss, American, Portuguese) all members of the ultra left and anarchist movements. Two of them, Antonin et Angel Bernanos (well-known to the police as “antifas” – anti-fascist militants, 18 prosecutions between them already), are the grand sons of maverick French writer Georges Bernanos (1888-1948). Antonin Bernanos got a 5-year jail sentence (2 years suspended), the others received lesser sentences.
To go back to the crux of the matter (Gilets Jaunes protests), the violence it’s generated in relation to the police response, there are two very distinct periods here: the protests pre weekend of 1-2 December 2018 and those post 7th Dec.
In Acts I, II and III of the Gilets Jaunes protests (17 Nov, 24 Nov and 1 Dec) the CRS and the ordinary police in province hardly intervened and largely let the protestors vandalise etc. The result of this laissez-faire strategy produced full-scale rioting in Paris (of the sort the gvt hadn’t anticipated) and lesser ones in Marseille and Toulouse mainly, but also in smaller towns such as Le Puy-en-Velay (where the town hall was burned down, possibly by irate farmers but that’s only my interpretation, they do like to vandalise and burn tax offices, town halls whenever the opportunity arises kind of thing).
Dec. 1st Gilets Jaunes protests in Paris was the definite turning point: over 200 cars torched, 600 other acts of vandalism recorded (street furniture mainly), whole streets barricaded, a dozen of official buildings set on fire (or attempts), tens of shops ransacked and looted in the posh areas – largely by the ultra left –, the museum and shop of the Arc de Triomphe totally ransacked – that was done both by neo-Nazis and ultra-right and anarchists, and the list goes on (losses in the tens of millions too, possibly €100m+, tourism suffered terribly for a few weeks).
The instructions given to the CRS that day was to “soak up” the violence and not intervene, for fear of a serious (lethal) incident. The death of Rémi Fraisse in 2014 and, to a lesser extent, that of student Malik Oussekine in 1986 in the Latin Quarter in Paris during the Nov-Dec 1986 students’ protests is still in everyone’s minds and CRS are generally told to “go easy” today (those mass protests in 1986 were against the “Americanisation” of the French university system – high fees etc. – 800,000 students, incl. a few workers/union members, marched on the streets of Paris on 4 Dec. 1986, and it turned sour. The day after, in another protest, M. Oussekine was beaten to death by 2 police officers. The 10 Dec. 1986 march in his memory drew 600,000 people on the streets of Paris and the Chirac gvt scrapped that bill – officially called the “Projet de loi Devaquet” – at that point). Just as the police have been told to go equally (relatively) easy in the more difficult banlieues since the 2005 riots, for fear of sparkling another wave of rioting.
However, the scale of the violence on Dec. 1st 2018 (unseen in decades) prompted the gvt to change tack and they told the CRS (whose number were doubled) to "let rip", to not hold back. And they certainly didn’t hold back from that point onwards.
To defuse the situation and placate the Gilets Jaunes, on Dec. 10th 2018 Macron announced a fairly comprehensive package of measures in favour of minimum wagers and the JAMS, one of which was to bump up the minimum wage to nearly €20,000 a year from 2019 (a sudden increase of 7%), with the addition of overtime hours being exempt from tax and social charges and additional yearly bonuses paid directly by companies (most of which have played ball, especially the bigger ones, Total, the banks etc.). Something that the unions had been demanding for years, to no avail...
Irrespective of one’s opinions about the Gilets Jaunes, one thing we can’t deny is that, in just two violent weekends in the posher parts of Paris (and elsewhere but that’s largely what happened in those upmarket Parisian districts that shook the gvt to the core), the Gilets Jaunes achieved to get from the gvt what unions and industrial action had been trying to obtain (largely peacefully) for years.
There is a cynical moral in there: in France, and I suspect across the world, asking peacefully for significant changes (= social advances) in whatever sector is not terribly effective. However, creating mayhem usually brings results. We only have to look at what happened in 1936 and 1968 in France to measure the validity of this axiom (huge protest movements that ended up making a difference for people, cf the Matignon Agreements during the Front Populaire movement and the Grenelle Agreements during the May 1968 students’ and workers’ revolt; to which you could add the Nov-Dec 1995 movement although it’s not quite in the same vein).
Thanks for those interesting insights Frasier
That man was certainly using his chair offensively:
I was reminded of the Poll Tax Riots of 1990 which seemed to work. (Cancelled by Major in '92)
Edit: Although the Miners Strike, not so much.
He's now suing the police, the Toulouse "parquet" (CPS) has promised a swift and thorough investigation, I do hope the CRS will fully cooperate but they have a terrible track record for protecting their officers whatever they do, I hate that attitude. They would really gain in popularity (for want of a better word) and credibility if they bloo.dy sorted out the black sheep in their ranks once and for all.
I fear that this appalling CRS will largely get away with it. He might be internally disciplined, get a small fine from the courts and a warning/caution, and be demoted to a desk job for 6 months by the CRS bosses but I can't see anything much more serious happening to him but we shall see.
And, certainly in countries like Britain or France (with an iconic, international capital), it’s even far more potent if the mayhem is created not just in the capital but in the hypercentre of the capital, which means the heart of power, the seat of the institutions and the most upmarket and touristic areas.
If those Poll Tax riots had taken place in Halifax or Inverness, the authorities’ reaction would no doubt have been different. Ditto France in the GJ context: if those rampages by extremists of all hues had taken place in some godforsaken provincial town, or even city, it wouldn’t have produced that instant reaction from the gvt to implement a package of measures to defuse the situation.
Demonstrations still continuing in France. Not that you would know from the British news.
Don't want the British working classes getting ideas, do they.
Is on the BBC website
I was thinking more TV news. I haven't seen the demonstrations shown.
I mainly watch SKY so may have missed the BBC showing it.
France24 TV is good for that (in English), https://www.france24.com/en/live Well, I’m not sure whether how good it is TBH as I don’t watch it (I get my fix of French news and programmes directly from French channels as I’ve got French TV at home) but it’s in English so that’s handy that's what I mean.
Also BFMTV online (in French), handy too, I use it with my 6th-formers and other students I teach outside of school, private tuition https://www.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/live-video/
I agree that it is being downplayed.
Yeah not exactly front and centre.
Ah, the old "Nothing to see here, folks" ploy.
Don't worry Emannuel is OK
If you google France demonstrations, you'll see there's plenty of coverage
Reasonable given that the demonstrations are now about a tenth of their original size.
There is also reportedly a nasty antisemitic component to them