In the Paris suburb of Bobigny late on Thursday, officers lined up outside a police station and placed their handcuffs on the ground. In Lyon, police parked their cars around the central Place Bellecour, blue lights flashing. The unions accuse President Emmanuel Macron and his government of showing disrespect after M Castaner on Monday promised “zero tolerance” for racism within law enforcement agencies and banned a chokehold used to detain suspects.
“Colleagues can’t take this any more,” Fabien Vanhemelryck of the National Police Alliance told reporters after Friday’s protesters arrived at the front gate of the interior ministry.
Police union vehicles in the convoy carried posters reading “No police, no peace”.
Another contained graphic images of injuries sustained by police attacked in the line of duty, with the words: “Who is massacring whom?”
“We need to be protected, respected, supported. The police are never above the law, but they should never be left below the law,” M Vanhemelryck said.
A wave of anger has swept around the world after the death of George Floyd, a black American who died after a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while detaining him on May 25.
The outpouring of emotion has resonated in France, in particular in deprived city suburbs where accusations of brutal, racist treatment of residents of often immigrant background by French police remain largely unaddressed, rights groups say.
M Vanhemelryck said that the police were being unfairly treated to calm the public.
He said the unions told Castaner “to stop buying social peace…where we appease a certain part of the population at the expense of the police.”
A Black Lives Matter protest is planned in Paris on Saturday.
Police urged restaurants, shops and businesses between the upscale Place de la République and Opera areas to close and board up their windows due to the risk of civil disorder.