The article would criminalise the publication of images of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their "physical or psychological integrity". It was passed by the National Assembly although it is awaiting Senate approval.
The controversy over the law and police violence is developing into another crisis for the government as Macron confronts the pandemic, its economic fallout and a host of problems on the international stage.
In a sign that the government could be preparing to backtrack, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24.
But he was forced into a U-turn even on this proposal after parliament speaker Richard Ferrand — a close Macron ally — accused the premier of trying to usurp the role of parliament.
For critics, the legislation is further evidence of a slide to the right by Macron, who came to power in 2017 as a centrist promising liberal reform of France.
The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has acknowledged the force âis not free of discrimination, racism or biasâ as London mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans for an urgent review of stop and search tactics disproportionately used on black people.
Dame Dick said she recognised trust in police was âstill too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutionsâ.
âI feel very sorry about that. It is something I have worked to change and I commit now to stepping up that work further."
LASD in Compton supposedly under control of 'The Executioners' police gang
In the US, members of Congress have just called for an investigation into allegations that Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department (LASD) personnel are organised as gangs. A trademark of these gangs, to which numerous deputy sheriffs are said to belong, are their distinctive tattoos.
Death of a teenager In a letter to the Justice Department, Congressmen Jamie Raskin and Jimmy Gomez called for an investigation into "the actions of a violent contingent of deputies" within the LASD who "follow white suprematist ideologies, belong to 'criminal gangs' and practice 'aggressive police tactics', who are motivated by racism ".
The background to these allegations is provided by the death of a teenager in Gardena, in southern Los Angeles, who was shot and killed by a police officer on June 18. On that day, 18-year-old Andres Guardado looked in the direction of the LASD police officers, "pulled out a gun" and ran away. "There was a short chase on foot," according to the LASD press release, "at the end of which the deputies contacted the suspect and the deputies involved were shot." According to the autopsy, Andres Guardado had five shots in the back.
According to family members, quoted by the "New York Times", Andres Guardado worked in two jobs as a security guard and, at the same time, trained as a mechanic at a technical college. The fatal "contact" with the police took place in the vicinity of a car mechanic where he was working as a security guard that day. Police said Guardado did not wear a uniform that had identified him as a security guard. Since he was not yet 21 years old, he could not yet be legally employed as a security guard.
Police said LASD Deputies Miguel Vega and Chris Hernandez observed Guardado talking to a person in a vehicle that was blocking a shop entrance. Allegedly Guardado drew a gun. After being pursued in a driveway, he allegedly put down the gun and lay face down on the ground. When Vega and Hernandez approached to handcuff him, Guardado allegedly reached for the gun. Deputy Vega fired six rounds, five of which hit Guardado in the back.
Shoot first, then celebrate At the beginning of August a whistleblower complained that a violent gang of Sheriff Deputies, who call themselves "The Executioners", had control of the Compton Police Department. Vega and Hernandez also belong to this area. The group rules through violence, threats and acts of revenge against those who speak out, according to whistleblower, Deputy Art Gonzalez.
Art Gonzalez estimates that 15 deputies from the police station belong to the group of "Executioners", all of whom are "inked", that is, they have tattoos. 20 other colleagues from the district are said to be among the aspirants who hope to be accepted into the group. Each "Executioner" wears a tattoo that shows a skeleton wrapped in flames with a Nazi helmet and an AK-47 assault rifle, commonly known as a Kalashnikov.
Both Deputy Vega, who fired the fatal shots at Andres Guardado, and his colleague Deputy Hernandez are said to be among the candidates who are hoping to be accepted into the "Executioners". "We call them the 'Ink Chasers'", says the whistleblower, "because they are out there trying to show the rest of the members, the rest of the ininked members, that they are worth wearing that tattoo."
One of the practices of the group, said the whistleblower, is to drive up the number of arrests. The illegal quotas would have doubled the number of arrests in a short period of time and thus serious violations of the civil rights of many residents. After police operations, it was falsely alleged that suspects were in possession of firearms to justify the use of police violence.
Allegedly, after a successful shootout, the deputy sheriff gang celebrates by drinking and getting tattoos together. "Members are tattooed as 'Executioners'", the whistleblower complained, "after executing members of the public or otherwise committing acts of violence in support of the gang." Only those who have profiled themselves with reprisals, so the allegation, can expect admission to the secret circle.
The mayor and the police The Mayoress of Compton declares that she herself was already subject to the strange behavior of the law enforcement officers she has hired. In June 2019, she was driving through town with her husband and young daughter when a police vehicle made a U-turn and asked her to stop. "Within seconds," said Mayor Aja Brown, "we were surrounded by almost seven to nine police cars." She was accused of having run over a red light, which she vehemently denies.
"They ordered me to get out of my vehicle and put my hands on the police car so they could search me like I was a criminal," Brown said. "Mind you, I was accompanied in the back seat by my husband and young daughter. I didn't look like a drug trafficker." The Sheriff Deputies searched her husband and her car for drugs but found nothing. After the police realized she was the mayor, they let her go.
"They terrorize the community," said Mayor Brown, "and then cover their tracks." The city of Compton, which she chairs, pays the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department $ 22 million annually for the provision of patrol and law enforcement services. The mayor has announced that she will terminate the contract with the LASD. The city is also calling for an investigation into the activities of the police who are accused of violating civil rights.
Police station or gangster stronghold? For a long time there have been concerns about the existence of secret gangs, cliques, gangs and brotherhoods in other police departments in the country. But in Los Angeles the problem seems to be particularly pronounced. They have colorful names such as "Reapers", "Regulators", "Little Devils" or "Banditos" - at least nine other gangs are supposed to operate in the area of ââthe LASD.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva couldn't help but admit that the "Banditos" temporarily controlled the East Los Angeles Police Department. Her emblem is a tattoo that shows a skeleton with a sombrero, a revolver and a cartridge belt. According to colleagues who do not belong to the "banditos", they ran the police station like a criminal enterprise.
"The mere accusation that a deputy is hiding behind his badge in order to injure someone makes me sick," said the chief of service. The allegations about the "Executioners" will now also be investigated. The FBI has been called in to assist with the investigation into the incident. However, this explains Sheriff Villanoeva, tattoos or membership in groups cannot be banned across the board, as this violates the First Amendment.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles District has been forced to pay $ 55 million over the past few decades due to cases involving sheriff deputies believed to have belonged to such secret societies. The list includes payouts in dozens of cases involving tattooed police officers accused of being overly aggressive in policing.
Law and disorder Los Angeles County paid $ 7 million to the family of a 31-year-old man who was shot dead by Sheriff Deputies in 2016 after being chased down on foot. The man, according to the police, was carrying a handgun. But no weapon was found. In this case, too, the deputies belonged to the Compton Police Department. In this case, too, the policeman who fired the shots had a tattoo on his leg: a flame-wrapped skeleton wearing a Nazi helmet and an AK-47 assault rifle, commonly known as a Kalashnikov.
Whether racism and disproportionate violence in police work are a systemic problem or whether misconduct is just a few "bad apples" is one of the big issues in the American election campaign. The history of violence in Los Angeles at least seems to show that the authorities responsible for maintaining order there are not always in good order.
This article appeared in an online magazine in German, a few hours before the latter assassination of two police officers in Compton (link).