Paris – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that video footage of police officers beating a black man was “ashamed of us” and condemned the violence perpetrated by police.
Mr Macron called on the government to swiftly put forward proposals to “strengthen the relationship of trust that must, of course, exist between the French and their defenders” and to combat discrimination.
Mr Macron’s public remarks posted on Facebook have been the first since police used blatantly unwarranted violence in his two recent episodes. The video, released on Thursday, showed that black music producer Michel Zecler had beaten him days earlier. This followed the brutal evacuation of migrants on Tuesday at a plaza in Paris, which was also documented on video footage.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Zecler said officers had insulted him, including a very strong racist epithet. He insisted he had no idea why the police went after him.
The events take place amid controversy over a new French security law, particularly an article that would make it a criminal offense to post pictures of officers with the intent to harm them. Civil rights groups and journalists are concerned that the measure will allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished. Demonstrations are planned around France on Saturday.
Mr Macron said in a Facebook message that he said the police should be “exemplary” in treating the public, and vice versa. That means, he said, he “never” accepts either violence against the police or the violence they commit.
“Those who ensure the application of the law must respect the law,” he said.
Mr. Macron, apparently responding to criticisms of the heavy-handedness perceived by the media, stressed that he enthusiastically believed in freedom of expression and freedom of the press. “The values of the Republic are not negotiable,” he said.
Officers involved in Mr. Zecler’s beating were suspended during an internal police investigation.