The violent evacuation of a temporary migrant camp erected in the heart of Paris on Monday night has left neither the usual critics of the methods of the French police nor their defenders indifferent. There were tear gas and attacks on migrants and journalists. Everything, recorded by cameras and mobile phones a few hours after the National Assembly approved the controversial "global security" law on Tuesday with 388 votes in favor, 104 against and 66 abstentions. A rule that will limit the dissemination of images of police officers and the gendarmerie. The Senate will examine the text in January.
Criticism of police violence, this time, came not only from NGOs and left-wing parties, but from the government itself. The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced an investigation by the General Inspectorate of the National Police – the so-called “police force” – to clarify these “unacceptable facts”. And he promised to make his conclusions public, which should be ready in 48 hours. "Immigrants must be treated humanely and with brotherhood," said the Minister of Citizenship, Marlène Schiappa, and the Minister of Housing, Emmanuelle Wargon, in a statement.
The migrants had already had to leave another camp dismantled the week before on the outskirts of Paris. They said they had not found a new accommodation. In the late afternoon on Monday, the shops were set up in the Republic Square as a protest to "make visible those who are trying to disperse," according to a message from the organization Doctors of the World on social networks. Another organization that supports migrants, Utopia 56, supported the installation to demand the “creation of a thousand places of immediate shelter and a perennial reception system for exiles”, and called for a demonstration for this Tuesday in the same square of the Republic .
What is unique about the last evacuation is that it occurred in a place as representative and central as the Plaza de la República, the usual point of origin or arrival of demonstrations, and not in a forgotten suburb or in border areas such as Calais, on the Canal de la Stain. Another peculiarity is the abundance of images and the inevitable debate on whether, with the new law – which provides penalties of up to one year in prison and a 45,000 euro fine if images of policemen or gendarmes have been disseminated with the intention of harming them – an operation as that of Monday could have been documented. Thousands of people, including many journalists, demonstrated across France on Saturday against a law that some detractors consider "liberticidal".
In the videos disseminated on social networks, agents are seen dragging shops with people inside and hitting a journalist on the ground. “As a result of the particularly brutal and shocking police interventions against refugees last night in the center of Paris, I wrote to the Minister of the Interior this morning to convey my strongest condemnation,” the mayor of the capital, Anne Hidalgo, said on Twitter. The Paris Prosecutor's Office announced the opening of two investigations for "violence committed by a person who is the custodian of public authority", in one case for the trip that a policeman made during the raid on one of the evacuated immigrants and, in the second, for the complaint filed by a journalist who said that he had been "harassed on several occasions" by the agents while covering the evacuation.
Minister Darmanin said that the demonstration was not authorized and could not be left in the Plaza de la República "hundreds of shops and people without evacuating", but admitted that the images were "shocking". This is a novelty: the mobilization of the minister and other members of the Government, not in defense of police action, but with the will to clarify the facts. The government criticism can be understood as a reprimand to the prefect of the Paris police, Didier Lallemand, whose management of the revolt of the yellow vests he stood out for his rhetorical excesses and forceful repression.
In a statement, the Prefecture recalled that the installation of tents in public spaces, "organized by certain associations," is "illegal" and invited migrants to appear at reception centers to be redirected to shelters "adapted to their situation. ”. The statement recalls that on November 17, after the dismantling of a camp in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, 3,000 people, including 400 families, were taken in in approved centers.