France drops law banning public filming of the police after riots and outrage

Adrianna Malena, World News Editor

Hate in the form of police brutality has been apparent across the globe as the police have been filmed assaulting men and women, more specifically of color, without reason.

Filming these attacks are a form of protection that the French government has recently moved to eliminate; however, activists were quick to take to the streets and ultimately prevent the proposed law from becoming a reality.

Over 133,000 people across France united against the proposed law, immediately after the draft was made public. Many activist’s acknowledge the severity of police brutality, and that it isn’t always recognized. Sihame Assbague, an anti-racism activist, told The Associated Press, there is a “systemic problem with French police forces, who are abusing, punching, beating, mutilating, killing”.

When asked about the controversial idea, President Macron’s representative Christophe Castaner said, “The bill will be completely rewritten and a new version will be submitted”, during a news conference.

The acclaimed “global security law” was initially put in place to protect police officers from threats on various social media platforms. The idea was that if their identities were protected, they wouldn’t face backlash provoked because of their actions.

There are an abundance of issues that could arise if the right to film and identify police officers is taken away. Thousands of acts of discrimination, power abuse, and misconduct would go unseen and unaddressed. People like Michel Zecler, a  French black music producer, wouldn’t be able to obtain justice after falling victim to the hidden hatred within the police force.

Zecler was beaten by four officers near his studio in Paris for several minutes, for absolutely no reason other than being a black man. It was a racially motivated attack, as Zecler explicitly stated that he was “racially abused” during the ambush. Without the power of video evidence, it is likely that these police officers would have faced no penalty at all. “I was lucky enough to have videos, which protected me,” said Zecler.

President Macron spoke out on the attacks against Zecler by calling the incident completely “unacceptable” and “shameful”, hoping to restore the foundation of trust between the government and citizens of France. 

A concept like this problematic draft is a source of fear for many, as you never know when your rights are being actively diminished. It’s important to be mindful of the freedoms you utilize on a daily basis, and how they protect you. If you don’t take a moment to acknowledge the seriousness behind your privileges, it’s very possible that they could be stripped from you, without you noticing.

Members of the French Guild of Reporters and Documentaries Authors and Directors, or GARRD, protest a proposed law banning the public from taking photographs or video of the police on November 28, 2020. The proposal was rescinded after large protests in Paris and other French cities. (Jeanne Menjoulet/CC BY 2.0)