French interior minister vows zero tolerance of police racism

FILE PHOTO – French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner delivers a speech during a news briefing at the Elysee Presidential Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting, in Paris, France May 27, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Monday pledged “zero tolerance” of racism in the police force, as he unveiled reforms following protests sparked by the death in the United States of an unarmed black man being restrained by police.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has triggered demonstrations across the world calling for racism to be stamped out and in particular for better oversight of police.

Castaner’s reforms include ditching a controversial chokehold method of arrest.

“Racism has no place in our society and even less in our Republican police. I will not let the hateful actions of some stigmatise all. I refuse to say that the (police) institution is racist, but yes some policemen are racists,” he said.

On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Paris to mark the 2016 death of Adama Traore, a 24-year old black Frenchman, in a police operation some have likened to Floyd’s death.

“French police are not American police” said Castaner, who stressed that “nobody must risk his life during an arrest,”

Castaner said the chokehold arrest would no longer be taught in police schools, that a police officer could now be suspended on suspicion of racism and that the use of body cameras would be beefed up.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Mark Potter

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