PARIS – President Emmanuel Macron of France said Friday that video footage showing police officers beating a black man “put us to shame” and condemned violence by and against police.
Mr Macron called on the government to swiftly make proposals “to reaffirm the relationship of trust that should naturally exist between the French and those who protect them” and to better combat discrimination.
Mr Macron’s public statements posted on Facebook were his first since police spotlighted the seemingly unwarranted use of force in two recent episodes. The video, which emerged on Thursday, showed the beating of a black music producer, Michel Zecler, a few days earlier. This was followed by the brutal evacuation of migrants by the police on Tuesday from a Pariser Platz, which was also documented on video.
Mr. Zecler said in an interview with The Associated Press that officials hurled insults at him, including a very strong racist surname. He insisted he had no idea why the police were going after him.
The incidents come amid controversy over a new French security law, particularly an article that would make it a crime to post pictures of officials trying to harm them. Civil rights groups and journalists are concerned that the move will allow police brutality to go undetected and go unpunished. Protests are planned in France on Saturday.
In his Facebook message, Mr Macron said he believed the police should treat the public as “exemplary” and vice versa. That is, he said he would “never” accept violence against the police or violence by them.
“Those who make sure the law is applied must respect the law,” he said.
Mr Macron, apparently responding to criticism of his perceived harshness on the news media, said he was a passionate believer in freedom of expression and freedom of the press. “The values of the republic are non-negotiable,” he said.
The officers involved in the beating of Mr. Zecler were suspended during an internal police investigation.