France in flames after yet another racist police murder

The divide between French ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ is constantly exacerbated in order to keep workers from making common cause against their rulers.

Lalkar writers

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France’s immigrant communities, largely drawn from the areas of French colonisation in the middle east and Africa, often live in ghettos on the outskirts of its major cities. Suffering from lower wages and life opportunities, routinely harrassed and oppressed by police, and ignored by the majority of French trade unions, they perform the useful role of a permanently victimised and vilified underclass in French society – alternately a source of low-wage labour or a useful pool of unemployed workers from which to draw in time of need and to act as a downward pull on wages generally.

Lalkar writers

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While the battle over pension/retirement rights rumbles on in France, there is no sign of protesting workers becoming exhausted – as President Emmanuel Macron was surely hoping they would be.

In the process of this ongoing struggle, the French police have underlined their anti-worker, anti-poor, anti-immigrant reputation – as earned during the yellow vest fuel price battles and various other industrial and educational battles. With every blow struck against the protesting masses, the gendarmes’ notoriety as enthusiastic wagers of the class war on behalf of their ruling-class masters has been enhanced.

A 17-year-old child named Nahel Merzouk was shot at point-blank range on 27 June after – allegedly – failing to obey police officers, who had told him to pull over in the west Paris suburb of Nanterre. The media are reporting that this boy was driving without a licence, but even the Nanterre state prosecutor has admitted that such an infringement would not warrant the use of firearms.

The police officer who fired the gun that killed the child has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Paris police claim they started up their flashers after spotting Nahel driving a Mercedes with a Polish number plate “fast” in a bus lane. When he came to a standstill at a traffic light, the officers shouted to Nahel not to drive off again and pointed their guns at the vehicle.

According to Nanterre state prosecutor Pascal Prache, “The officer who shot the teenager has told investigators he had done so to ‘avoid the vehicle fleeing again’ and because of ‘the dangerousness of the driver, causing the officer to fear that someone could be knocked over’.”

The murder resulted in an immediate outpouring of anger against the police in general Paris and other major cities, as people took to the streets in marches, protests and riots.

Nahel was a student at Louis-Blériot Lycée (sixth form college) in Suresnes. He worked nights delivering pizzas and played rugby league with Ovale Citoyen.

Jeff Puech, chairman of Ovale Citoyen, defended his memory against those who were trying to portray him as a lawless thug, saying: “He was someone who wanted to integrate socially and professionally, not a kid who lived off drug dealing or petty crime.”

President Macron, who usually supports his uniformed thugs, was forced to call the murder “inexplicable and unforgivable”, adding: “Nothing can justify the death of a young person,” before promising that there would be no leniency for the officer accused of killing Nahel.

This was followed by a tweet later expressing “gratitude to the forces of law and order who protect us”.

Of course, walking in the middle of the road runs the risk of being hit by traffic going in both directions. Not only do the angry protesters not believe that Macron was sincere in his statements about punishing a murderer in uniform, but the police trade union is also not accepting his sincerity regarding his ‘gratitude’.

Nahel’s grieving mother has lost her only child; another murdered youngster from an immigrant family. Another boy from the poorer sections of France’s cities where the French police treat the communities in general and the young in particular as criminals just waiting to be jailed, beaten or shot. Nahel had no criminal record, yet even the British media went all out to slur his memory with innuendo – but not a single fact.

As the time of writing, the second night of protests against police brutality and Macron’s government was taking place in cities and towns across France, with arson attacks reported on Fresnes prison in the Paris region, an attack on the courthouse in nearby Asnières-sur-Seine, and attacks on numerous police stations across the country.

Large sections of the French working class are open-eyed as to whom the French police work for and who they will always be against (certainly while capitalism is the political system). Here in Britain, on the other hand, we have to wonder at the continued lack of understanding on that score by so many workers.

That low level of understanding helps partly to explain the lack of meaningful opposition to a ruling class that keeps ramping up its anti-worker and anti-union legislation – to the point where Britain’s state institutions and police forces have now been granted a licence to break the law in order to keep the working class down, while almost every form of effective protest or trade union action has been or is in the process of being criminalised.