New French Bill Reduces Oversight on Police Action

Christian Muisener ‘23

In November, 2020, thousands of French civilians took to the streets in Paris to protest a new surveillance bill that was being implemented. This bill would make it harder to share and post misbehaving police officers online. This struck a chord with the city, which has been dealing with police violence for years now.

Nicholas Gonnot, a 50 year old who took in the protests stated that “Rather than trying to solve problems, this law seeks to cover up the blunders.” Protests were held in major cities across france. Citizens are worried about their freedom of speech, and what the police would do with less oversight from the people. Tensions have been high in France for the past few months, with President Macron’s harsher security policies, and multiple islamic terrorist attacks. Critics of the bill say the recording law is more than just about protecting the police, but also giving them permission to act without the worry of being recorded. 

These riots mimic riots that took place in 2018 due to increasing gas taxes. The Yellow Vest riots in 2018 became violent, with increasingly unrealistic demands made by the rioters, and they started to target the government. President Macron spoke out against the riots, and even used police intervention, much like these protests in late 2020. 

The protests were originally restricted to one city square by the police, but courts allowed the protests to go throughout the streets. The group Stop Global Security Law advocated for the withdrawal of the articles that would implement the stronger police and surveillance policies. They also protested policing schemes that forced journalists to disperse during protests. Over 100 government officials from Paris joined the protests. The protests came at the end of a week with multiple police violence cases. Increasing tensions between the public and the police were caused by beating up reporters. The French interior minister claimed that the journalist must not approach the police before the protest, even though that isn’t written in law. A French media site uploaded a video of a man being beat up by the police, and many famous French celebrities, like Antoine Griezman spoke out against this. 

President Macron of France said he has been trying to restore confidence in the public about the police, and came up with many proposals. Macron made comments on the videos of police brutality, saying that the violence “shame us”.