French police dump handcuffs in protest to rebuff critics

Angry police across France have thrown their handcuffs on the ground as they feel "insulted" by claims that they tolerate brutality and racism.

Protesting police also drove in convoy down the Champs-Élysées in central Paris on Friday, sounding their horns.

They rejected any parallels with the Minneapolis police officers whose fatal arrest of George Floyd sparked a wave of anti-racism protests worldwide.

And they are furious with a government ban on the police "chokehold".

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced the ban on Monday, after French protesters took to the streets alleging that police in France exhibited racism towards ethnic minorities, in the same way that US police have been accused of using brutality towards black suspects.

Mr Castaner held talks with police unions on Thursday and they are continuing, as the government seeks to cool an intense racism debate that has re-ignited tensions in some communities.

France's police watchdog says it received almost 1,500 complaints against officers last year - half of them for alleged violence, AFP reports.

On Monday the interior minister announced the chokehold method "will be abandoned".

"It will no longer be taught in police and gendarmerie schools. It is a method that has its dangers," he said.

He vowed that there would be "zero tolerance" of racism in law enforcement and officers strongly suspected of racism would be suspended.

He said too many officers had "failed in their Republican duty" in recent weeks, and he cited cases of racist and discriminatory remarks. "We have to track it down and combat it."

A Paris police officer quoted by Le Parisien news on Friday said "this government is spineless - all you need is 20,000 hotheads in the street and the government abandons the police".

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