Emmanuel Macron is facing a huge backlash from both Black Lives Matter protesters and his country’s own national police force, sparking an unprecedented crisis for the French President. Mr Macron infuriated both anti-racism activists and police officers this week, after his Government flip-flopped on police reforms. Earlier this week, the French Government moved to ban the police chokehold and tighten up discipline measures for officers suspected of racism, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.
The interior minister Christophe Castaner, a close ally of Mr Macron, said there would be “zero tolerance” for police racism.
On the chokehold, he said: “It will no longer be taught in police and gendarmerie schools. It is a method that has its dangers.”
He acted after French protesters took to the streets alleging that police in France had a history of police brutality.
Furious protesters commemorated Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black Frenchman who died in a 2016 police operation.
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However the government plan drew immediate pushback from French police, who rejected any parallels with the death of George Floyd in the US.
A Paris police officer quoted by Le Parisien news on Friday said: “This government is spineless – all you need is 20,000 hotheads in the street and the government abandons the police.”
Police officers protested the proposals on Friday by blocking main roads in Paris and throwing down their handcuffs in front of police stations across France.
French police unions called for further action, including refusing to make arrests until their demands are met.
Police union officials said on French television that Mr Castaner had offered them “explanations” and even apologised for “communications errors.”
Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of Unité SGP Police Force Ouvrière, one of France’s main police unions, said: “We have won something, and lost nothing.”
This comes amid plans for huge anti-racism protests through central Paris later on Saturday.
The Paris police department has urged shops in the area to close and board up their windows, amid fears the protest will turn violent.