Help, Police!

“Que fait la police?” it is usually said in France, if you want to criticize the police for inability or inaction. The latter can hardly be accused of the forces of police and Gendarmerie when it comes to operations against the active since last November movement of the yellow West (gilets jaunes). The French state is taking action against the new civil movement with a previously unknown force. Since the yellow West has only a very loose organizational structure and therefore there are hardly any responsible persons who can be prosecuted, one relies on crumbling and massive deterrence. To this end, the police and Gendarmerie units and the barracks forces of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) were equipped with new weapons called “not yet lethal (sublétale)”. A grenade called GLI-F4 is particularly dangerous. In addition to tear gas, it contains 25 grams of explosives (TNT), which causes a violent pressure wave and is extremely loud with 165 decibels. The weapon, from which there are allegedly only remaining stocks, has caused serious injuries to protesters such as torn hands.

In December 2018, the Ministry of Interior ordered 1280 new copies of the monstrous rifle, which shoots hard rubber balls with a diameter of 40 millimeters. About 20 of the projectiles caused serious eye injuries to the victims, and some failed to rescue the eye. Since the beginning of the yellow-West movement almost 10,000 of these rubber projectiles have been shot down. France is the only European country to use such weapons so far. Doctors and hospital staff repeatedly revolted about the severity of injuries to protesters delivered. But even in the emergency rooms, the state is present. Hospitals were obliged to forward the names of the injured. At the beginning of February a “law on hooligans”, to be intimidated in front of all the participants in the demonstrations of the yellow West, and in the terrorist area, was adopted in urgent procedure, the “loi anti-casseurs”,.

The case of an 80-year-old woman from Marseille was even taken up outside France. Zineb Redouane was on 1. December 2018, during a Demonstration on the balcony of their fourth floor apartment. She was hit by one, but probably two tear gas grenades and died two days later from the consequences of her injuries. For the police it was quickly clear that Mrs. Redouane died not through the gas grenade, but through the consequences of surgery in the hospital. In addition, the grenade should have exploded above the heads of the protesters and had been misguided. The daughter of the deceased is sure that her mother was deliberately targeted because they are filmed with their mobile phone use. In fact, private evidence produced with the mobile phone for the documentation of police callers is becoming increasingly important, as journalists and reporters marked by armbands are not spared by the police.

By the beginning of this year, more than 4,500 persons were temporarily detained; almost 700 defendants were brought before a criminal judge by the beginning of January, 216 sentenced to imprisonment. On the demonstrations of the yellow West, police violence is increasingly becoming the main theme. More than 1,000 artists, including actresses such as Juliette Binoche and Emmanuelle Béart, published on 5 May a call in which they showed solidarity with the yellow-West and condemned the brutal action of the police: “the record of Repression deteriorates weekly. Until 19. On April 22, 2019, there was already a death, 248 head injuries, 23 people who have lost an eye, five who have to complain about the loss of their Hand. It is unworthy of our republic. The manifesto also states: “the most threatening violence is economic and social. It is the violence of a government that defends the interests of a few at the expense of all. It is the violence that leaves its traces on the body and mind of those who work to survive. … We won’t be fooled! We can see the over-exploited strategies to discredit the yellow-West by describing them as anti-ecologists, extremists, racists.“As early as the end of February, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, had strongly criticised the actions of the French police and called for a ban on hard rubber bullets.

“Que fait la police?” also stood on a Transparent, which was shown at a Demonstration on August 3 in Nantes. It was a Demonstration to commemorate Steve Maia Caniço. His body was recovered from the Loire on 29 July. What had happened? On the night of 21 to 22 July, the Fête de la musique was held at Quai Wilson in France. At about four o’clock in the morning, due to the noise pollution, the police went massively against the participants. As the Shore Road is not protected by a barrier to the Loire, some sprang in panic into the river. All could save themselves, except one: Steve Maia Caniço. The non-swimmer remained lost for five weeks, in the city formed an association with the name " Où est Steve?""(Where is Steve?). The police tried from the beginning to deny a connection between the death of the young man and the police operation. Important witnesses were not heard, the mobile phone of Steve has been evaluated only superficially, and even the Inspection générale de la Police nationale (IGPN), a police unit, which is determined solely against police officers who refused, as also the local police on a cell to query the cell phones and checked only the last calls. Only the police of Rennes, who were transferred to the investigation because of the bias of the local police, found that the phone was switched on by Steve up to four minutes after the police operation.

Under Macron, the police were massively upgraded and equipped with extensive powers of attorney. This includes preventive detention where people can be detained who are only suspected of committing a criminal offence. This was also the experience of three young Germans from Nuremberg, who were arrested on the motorway four days before the start of the G-7 summit in Biarritz and sentenced to three months ' imprisonment in the rapid trial. In the process, only a compulsory attorney appointed by the state was allowed. The three were obviously on a list sent to the French police by German authorities.

Anyone who wants to take legal action against the police needs a long breath, this is not only true in France. According to a study by the University of Bochum, there are 12,000 alleged illegal attacks by the police in Germany alone. Only one fifth of them is displayed. In 2018, 2,000 cases were closed; the very few people surveyed in the study reported that they did not believe that the accused police officers were punished. Often it is not possible to identify the uniformed offenders, most important evidence are testimony, medical findings and video material. Only in seven per cent of all cases were prosecuted, 93 per cent of the cases were closed. In addition, the plaintiff is often faced by the accused official with a counterclaim (resistance, assault). In addition, almost never Police officers testify against colleagues.

Traditionally, police officers are more likely to belong to the right-wing political camp. On the occasion of the French presidential elections in 2017, the opinion research Institute IFOP found that 51 percent of the gendarmes wanted to vote for the party of Marine Le Pen. In Germany, there are no such surveys so far, but an affinity of police officers to the AfD arises also from the fact that police officers are significantly overrepresented in this party. In Thuringia, five of the 38 candidates for the state parliament elections in October come from the police. In almost all federal states, there are frequent incidents in which police officers are struck by racist or neo-fascist statements or join similar organizations such as the Ku-Klux-Klan in Baden-Württemberg.

Investigations into radical right-wing attacks are often stopped or ended with a mild complaint. The state does not want to spoil it with its guardians. If it is politically opportune, of course, police operations are also strongly criticised. In the reporting of the protests in Hong Kong, sympathy is more on the side of the anything but peaceful protesters. If the police were to act like their French colleagues there, there would be a media outcry and impressive images of injured victims. However, the police are also the victims, because they are supposed to judge the mistakes of politics with rubber sticks and tear gas. A brutal task.