The two largest police unions in France called on Friday for President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “restore order” and not capitulate to rioters, saying they were fighting a war today but may well become “the resistance” tomorrow.
“Now that’s enough,” said the statement by the Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police, posted on Facebook on Friday evening.
“Faced with these wild hordes, asking for calm is no longer enough, you have to impose it!”the unions said, adding that the only political signal needed at this moment is to restore the order in the republic. “Our colleagues, like the majority of citizens, can no longer endure the dictates of these violent minorities. Now is not the time for union action but for the fight against these ‘harm-makers’. Submitting, capitulating and pleasing them by laying down our arms is not the solution, given the gravity of the situation.”
The police must show solidarity, put down the riots as quickly as possible, and restore the rule of law, the unions demanded, but warned the government that they expect “concrete measures for legal protection” of the officers going forward.
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“Today the police are in combat because we are at war. Tomorrow we will be the resistance, and the government will have to realize this,” the unions said in conclusion.
The de facto ultimatum to Macron comes after three nights of increasingly violent riots across the country, triggered by Tuesday morning’s death of 17-year-old Nahel M. during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. The officer who fatally shot the Franco-Algerian teen has been charged with homicide and jailed, in what his attorney insists was an attempt to appease the rioters.
More than 400 arrests have been made across France, with most of those detained being juveniles. The French government has deployed over 40,000 police and gendarmes across the country, including 5,000 in Paris and its environs. Among them are elite anti-terrorist and tactical units, backed up by armored vehicles.
Rioters have caused almost 4,000 fires, destroyed over 2,000 cars, and damaged almost 500 buildings, Macron told an emergency meeting of the French cabinet on Friday afternoon, after cutting short his trip to the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.