French police have allegedly refused to arrest an individual in the city of La Rochelle, fearing that accusations of racism could get them sacked or the arrest could spark fresh riots.
The incident took place on Tuesday evening when a young cyclist shouted “ACAB”, an acronym for “all cops are bastards”, at a police patrol several times. When the police turned around to confront the young man he unleashed a torrent of insults on them, but the youth was eventually, politely, let go.
The reason the young man was not arrested, according to a report from newspaper Valeurs Actuelles, was that the police feared being labelled racist or that an arrest could spark fresh riots in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in France and across the globe.
At Least 25 French Cities and Towns Erupt in Riots as ‘Youths’ Attack Police https://t.co/nsvO8FFQ4k
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 21, 2020
Officers are also allegedly concerned that accusations of racism could see them lose their jobs. The fears were sparked by French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner stating on Monday that “a suspension must be systematically considered for each proven suspicion of a racist act or speech” made by police.
Castaner’s comments have provoked severe criticism from many, including Denis Jacob, general secretary of the CFDT Alternative Police union, and populist National Rally leader Marine Le Pen. Both Le Pen and Bruno Retailleau, the president of the right-wing Republican group in the French Senate, claimed the accusations could mean officers faced a “presumption of guilt”, rather than of innocence.
Le Pen has long had strong support from police, gendarmes officers, and the military, with a 2019 report claiming that her National Rally won broad support in areas housing high numbers of troops and gendarmes during last year’s European Parliament elections.
Officers’ fears of fresh riots are also a major issue as Black Lives Matter protests in Paris devolve into riots during the strict Wuhan coronavirus lockdown measures. Sensitive no-go neighbourhoods across the country also saw multi-night riots that were sparked by allegations of police brutality.