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Enough! French police unions condemn ‘savage hordes,’ forcing Macron into action

As the violence spiraled out of control in parts of France, two unions representing many of the country’s police demanded Friday that the government of Emmanuel Macron act immediately and support them as they counter the rioters.

The statement posted on social media from Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA police seems to have gotten their message across as more police have been sent to stop the unrest. “In the face of these savage hordes, calling for calm is not enough, we need to impose it, to re-establish order in the republic and put those arrested beyond where they can act up,” the translated statement read.

It also made it clear that it if the police didn’t get the political support needed in putting down the violence, they could take action. “Today the police are in combat because we are at war, tomorrow we will be in resistance and the government should realize that.”

The strongly worded statement noted that its members and the majority of citizens could no longer put up with the dictates of a few. “The time isn’t for union action but to combat or battle these irritants to surrender, capitulate and please them… All the options must be put in place to reinstate the fastest possible the law of the state.” Other reports said the police unions were waging a war against what they termed as “vermin.”


French protestors burning a trash can on the street.

Protesters burn a trash can on the street in Marseille, southern France, on July 1, 2023. (Clement Mahoudeau/AFP via Getty Images)

The head of the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions disavowed the police union statement. 

Barron’s reported that one far left-wing politician condemned the police unions’ statement; former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted “unions’ calling for civil war should learn to keep quiet.”

Richard Landes, a retired Boston University professor of history who is currently in Paris and has written about France, told Fox News Digital, “The police would never have said that in 2005. But since then there has been a stealth war on the police, with some specifically targeted. I expected the police to behave more docile now than in 2005 because they have been targeted by radical Islamists. That statement is remarkable.”

In 2005, two French Muslim teenagers saw a police van cross their path and they fled. The police chased the boys, who hid in a dangerous power substation, where they died due to electrocution. The police said it was an accident and the deaths triggered three weeks of rioting across France. Rioters torched cars and public property. Immigrants and French of largely North African origin who live in housing projects stoked most of the violence. The French government declared a state of emergency in November 2005 to prevent further violence.

Champs Elysees

French police gathered in numbers on the Champs Elysees in Paris, Saturday night. (Reuters)

On Friday the government announced it was putting some 45,000 police on duty to take on the rioters since the death of the 17-year-old Nahel M., whose last name has not been released. Police pulled over the teenager in the Paris suburb of Nanterre on Tuesday morning during a traffic stop.

An officer appeared to shoot Nahel as the car suddenly pulls away, traveling only a short distance before crashing, with Nahel dying at the scene. Police took the offending officer into custody and opened an investigation into charges of voluntary manslaughter, with charges brought against him on Friday.

France Riots

Firefighters extinguish burning vehicles during clashes between protesters and police, after the death of Nahel, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, France, June 28. ( REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq)

Reuters reported that, in an interview with French television, the police officer’s lawyer, Laurent-Franck Lienard, said his client had aimed at the driver’s leg but was bumped when the car took off, causing him to shoot toward his chest. “Obviously (the officer) didn’t want to kill the driver,” he said according to the report.

Since Tuesday some 200 police officers have been injured. The number of people arrested as of Sunday morning had grown to more than 3,000.


French President Emmanuel Macron standing outside.

French President Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism for attending an Elton John concert amid the unrest. (Christian Liewig – Corbis/Getty Images)

Macron faced criticism on Friday for being aloof and dancing at an Elton John concert in Paris as France was engulfed in fire and violence.

The dramatic statement from the police unions about waging “resistance” against their employer, the French government, appears to have jolted France’s interior minister and Macron to embrace a hawkish crackdown on the widespread anarchy and violence.

France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin took to Twitter to praise the police for their “resolute action.” He wrote the actions of law enforcement led to a “calmer night” on Saturday.

Landes said the public are mostly sympathetic about the crackdown. “I talked to one person in a bike shop. He said ‘They are not riots. They are pillaging.’”


Protestors running away from smoke.

Protestors running from smoke cans in Nice, France, early July 2, 2023. (Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images)

He said over the last 20 years people have become “more aware of the problems.” Landes termed the response by the press and intellectuals to the riots in 2005 as “naiveté.”

When asked about reports that the protesters have legitimate grievances, Landes said, “Sure. But that hardly legitimizes what they are doing.” He continued, “There may be discrimination, and there is discrimination in every culture. Being an immigrant is not easy.” But, he added, there is a strong dimension of hostility toward France by some of the country’s Muslims that he claimed refuse to assimilate.

Fox News’ Peter Aitken, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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