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Police Racism Is A Problem In France But So Are Criminal Gangs
Average folks of all ethnic backgrounds, political dispositions, and social classes are caught in the middle of this crisis. Violence won’t help control the cost of living, resolve social problems in urban areas, nor settle debates over French identity. To the contrary, it only makes all these issues much worse.
The latest spree of riots across France have divided most folks into polar opposite camps. One supports the unrest as a form of protest against police racism while the other opposes them due to the involvement of criminal gangs. The first believe that the participants have no other recourse after supposedly exhausting all peaceful options over the years in their attempt to push through reforms whereas the second believes that violence is always unacceptable no matter the situation.
There are other factors influencing the course of events too such as the rising cost of living, worsening social problems in urban areas, and debates over what it means to be French in this ethnically cosmopolitan country where a sizeable proportion of citizens are descended from immigrants. Moreover, there are those who simply dislike President Macron, especially some observers abroad who are reveling in schadenfreude as a result of this political crisis.
Everyone would do well to remember that police racism is a problem in France but so are criminal gangs, with these two issues lying at the core of the latest unrest. The police killed a 17-year-old suspect of Algerian descent under suspicious circumstances that were caught on tape and immediately went viral across social media. The deceased’s mother only blames the officer involved, yet that didn’t prevent several nights of riots by criminal gangs, some of whom brandished military-grade weapons.
Average folks of all ethnic backgrounds, political dispositions, and social classes are caught in the middle of this crisis, which was avoidable in hindsight despite preexisting pressure connected to those factors touched upon in the second paragraph of this piece. Violence won’t help control the cost of living, resolve social problems in urban areas, nor settle debates over French identity. To the contrary, it only makes all these issues much worse.
Regarding the two trigger events behind this crisis, there’s already going to be an investigation to determine exactly what happened during those suspicious circumstances that resulted in the police killing the 17-year-old suspect of Algerian descent. The officer will obviously be jailed if he’s found guilty of committing a crime, in which case there’ll hopefully be more reforms implemented afterwards in order to prevent more such occurrences and the riots that almost always follow.
As for the second trigger event, the security services haven’t fully done their duty to the French people since it’s clear that criminal gangs reman a major threat in the country’s biggest cities. The challenge is that some of their members are immigrants or descended from such communities, which is why officers have to tread very carefully during their investigations and operations in order to avoid accusations of racism. One misplaced allegation or botched raid and more riots could always erupt at any time.
If there was a higher degree of trust among society that police racism has been adequately addressed, then they’d have a comparatively freer hand to dismantle criminal gangs across the country, but that’s lacking for myriad reasons. Once again, police racism is undeniable, but it’s also equally undeniable that there exist political forces that have an interest in falsely portraying everything through the prism of race even when it’s irrelevant.
These actors complicate the work of the security services and thus endanger their fellow citizens even if the latter outcome isn’t their intent. When everything is racialized, the police become reluctant to take decisive action out of fear that doing so could catalyze another round of nationwide unrest organized by these same political forces. France’s dilemma is essentially the same as the US’, which is increasingly becoming the norm across the West.
There’s no silver bullet solution since the problem is zero-sum to a large degree: either racially focused groups succeed in deterring the police from taking decisive action against minority members of criminal gangs or the police take such without concern for these groups’ reaction. Law enforcement’s calculations are always in flux since these groups’ influence ebbs and flows along with public opinion, both of which nowadays shape how they respond to threats unless they’re forced to react impromptu of course.
It’s little wonder then that police across the West are becoming demoralized since those honest ones among them fear that doing their duty could result in ruining their lives if their actions are turned into a national scandal by these same racially focused groups. To be absolutely clear, there are grounds for an investigation every time that a police firearm is discharged and especially if it’s against a minority, but not all police shootings are due to racism even though the latest in France is definitely suspicious.
Average folks of all ethnic backgrounds, political dispositions, and social classes suffer the longer that this dilemma remains unresolved since they’re always at risk of being victimized by the riots that erupt after accusations of police racism whenever a minority suspect is killed. Proper training of law enforcement could reduce the number of those occurrences that fuel legitimate suspicions of racist intent, but it’ll take time to see results and the police won’t always perfectly apply what they learned.
Together with the above, the commencement of public awareness campaigns by a diverse group of concerned citizens can help inform the populace about the legitimate reason why force must sometimes be used against all suspects, especially those that are proven to be part of criminal gangs. At the same time, they could also expose the members and machinations of those racially focused groups that manipulate popular perceptions of police shootings for self-interested political reasons.
A new social contract has to be forged between the citizenry and the police in order to restore the trust that’s presently lacking between them and which is exploited by those aforesaid racially focused groups. Likewise, the citizenry itself has to come to the understanding that it’s unacceptable for those same groups to manipulate divisive events for the purpose of provoking riots, but these complementary social contracts are far away from being reached anywhere in the West so no substantive solution is in sight.