Macron ‘shocked’ by video of French police beating black man | World news

The French government is scrambling to dampen rising anger over footage showing police beating a black music producer in Paris, the latest in a series of acts of alleged police violence to rock the country.

Emmanuel Macron is reported to have summoned his interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, to the Elysée to demand “firm punishment” for police accused of violence, and was said to be “shocked” by a video of officers beating music producer Michel Zecler in his studio.

Four officers have been suspended pending an investigation into the arrest of Zecler last Saturday. The officers, who did not realise the incident was being filmed, reportedly gave false statements saying Zecler had attacked them and tried to grab one of their guns.

The four were taken into police custody for questioning on Friday. Three are being questioned on charges of “deliberate violence in a group with weapons and of a racist nature”. The fourth officer is under investigation for the same charge of deliberate violence as well as “deliberate damage using dangerous means”. .

Earlier in the day, Zecler’s lawyer, Hafida El Ali, had said she was disappointed the men were not being held in custody.

“My client spent a completely unjustifiable 48 hours in police custody,” El Ali said, accusing the police of making false statements and of having “outrageously attacked him”. “If we didn’t have the videos, my client might be in prison right now.”

After the attack, Zecler, 41, told journalists: “These people were supposed to protect me. I didn’t do anything to deserve that. I want these people punished by the law. Of course I was afraid … it’s lucky I have the videos to protect me. This shouldn’t happen.”

French police caught on CCTV beating black music producer in his Paris studio – video

Europe 1 reported that Macron had “seen red” after watching the video, which spread on social media on Thursday.

“The president was very shocked and immediately called his interior minister,” a presidential source told the radio station. Macron’s reaction was confirmed by other French media who reported that Darmanin was ruffling feathers among government ministers and MPs of the president’s governing centrist La République En Marche party.

Earlier this week, Darmanin expressed his confidence in the police after they were criticised for using teargas and truncheons to dismantle a migrant camp in central Paris.

Two official inquiries have been launched following the operation: one into a police officer filmed tripping up a migrant running away from officers causing him to fall heavily, and a second involving a police officer holding a journalist on the ground while appearing to threaten him with a truncheon.

An ex-campaign manager for former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Darmanin has been accused of pandering to Marine Le Pen’s far-right supporters.

“He [Darmanin] is dragging us into a series of catastrophic affairs,” one government source reportedly told BFMTV adding: “He is clearly too far right, which isn’t LREM’s DNA.”

The economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, told French television the images were “shocking” but denied the police and gendarmerie were “structurally violent”. “When something like this happens and everyone can see what has happened … punishment is necessary,” Le Maire said. “There are excesses and when that happens they should be systematically punished.” But, he added: “The police are often attacked, targeted …we can’t forget that either.”

Darmanin also defended the police and said most officers were doing a good job. “I want to say to the police and gendarmes that I support them… The immense majority of them do a remarkable job in difficult circumstances,” Darmanin tweeted.

In a television interview, the minister said the images of the attack on Zecler were “unspeakable, shocking”. “If the investigation concludes there was a fault, I will ask for the dismissal of the … police officers,” Darmanin added.

French celebrities, sporting stars and politicians have all lined up to condemn the attack. Footballers including the French internationals Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann also expressed their anger. “Unacceptable film. Unacceptable violence. My France has values, principles and codes (of behaviour)….stop racism”, Mbappé tweeted.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the hard left La France Insoumise, called for the resignation of the Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, saying the police had become a “militia”. The Socialist party leader, Olivier Faure, said it was “time to accept we have to deal with the subject of racism in the police”.

The officers involved in the attack on Zecler are also being investigated for allegedly “falsifying evidence”. In their statements, seen by AFP, the police are said to have accused Zecler of attacking them. “As we tried to intercept him, he dragged us by force into the building,” they wrote, adding that he had hit them. The video footage shows none of this.

The public prosecutor’s office said an inquiry had been opened and entrusted to the IGPN, the police force’s internal investigations unit.

The latest row over police violence came as the national assembly voted to approve a contested new law that contains an article making it illegal to publish photos of police or gendarmes on duty with “malicious intent to harm them physically or psychologically”. Critics say it is open to interpretation by the police and is a threat to press freedom.

Jean Castex, the prime minister, has announced the setting up of an independent commission to examine and rewrite article 24.

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