French police defy chokehold ban amid public anger

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Police staged protests in cities across France against a ban on chokehold restraint techniques imposed by the government in response to public anger over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and alleged police brutality in France.

In Paris on Friday, police unions parked dozens of vehicles at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe before processing down the Champs Elysees boulevard. One van carried a poster reading “No police, no peace.” Another carried graphic images of injuries sustained by police officers attacked in the line of duty, with the words: “Who is massacring who?”

The protests followed a meeting between police unions and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner meant to try and allay the simmering police anger.

The unions told the minister the chokehold saved lives and was a technique that officers needed at their disposal until a suitable alternative was found, Fabien Vanhemelryck of the National Police Alliance said after the meeting.

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In the Paris suburb of Bobigny late Thursday evening, officers lined up outside the police station and threw their handcuffs to the ground. In Lyon, police parked their cars around the central Place Bellecour, blue lights flashing.

Accusations of brutality and racism against French police remain largely unaddressed, rights groups say.

A wave of anger has swept around the world after the death of Floyd, an African-American who died after a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The knee-on-neck restraint used in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is banned in most of Europe outside of France. Demonstrators have taken to French streets to protest cases in which people died during arrest or while in police custody in the country. Racist comments allegedly made by police officers in a Facebook group also sparked outrage.

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