Censorship

Following Protests, France Retreats on Plan to Censor Filming of Police

Earlier in November, surveillance footage captured officers beating a man for not wearing a mask.

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After a weekend of protests, inspired by a police beating, French President Emmanuel Macron and his ruling party are backing off from supporting a proposed law that would severely curtail, if not eliminate, the sharing of footage and images of law enforcement officers at work.

The proposal at issue, Article 24, would not officially outlaw photographing and sharing images of police. But it would threaten a yearlong jail sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros ($54,000) to anyone who takes or shares images of law enforcement with an "obvious intention to harm." Experts in France, including the government's own ombudsman, warned that the law was too vague and would have a chilling effect on the movement to expose police brutality.

And France does have a police brutality problem. This weekend's protests were inspired by the beating of a 41-year-old black man, Michel Zecler, a music producer, who was stopped by police in Paris for not wearing a mandatory coronavirus mask on Nov. 21. According to NPR, surveillance footage captured three officers forcing their way into his studio and beating him. The beating only stopped when others came to Zecler's aid. A fourth police officer threw a canister of tear gas into the studio.

On Sunday, French prosecutor Remy Heitz filed preliminary charges against the four officers. Then, in an emergency meeting on Monday, Macron and his party agreed to rewrite and resubmit Article 24 to "clarify" the law, according to Christophe Castaner, head of the La Rem party.

Article 24 is part of a package of new laws that Macron and LaRem have been pushing that would curtail individual freedoms in the name of preserving law and order. In addition to Article 24, Macron's party has also proposed a ban on campus protests that "trouble the tranquility and good order of the establishment." That prohibition would carry a fine and possible prison term for anyone who violates it. Macron's government is also trying to eliminate all nonaccredited religious schooling and homeschooling.

Macron has justified these proposed restrictions as a necessary part of the fight against Islamic radicals inside France. The proposals were introduced in the Parliament in response to the beheading of a middle school teacher in October. That teacher was targeted for assassination because he showed his class several caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Macron's crackdowns appear to be not only a familiar attack on personal liberty but also an attempt to shield French authorities from accountability and criticism for their own misdeeds.

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  1. Yeah that’s what is going on in France. Nothing else to see there.

    1. As bad as US police are, they are much worse in Europe. Getting roughed up by the police is pretty common there.

      1. I heard the “Guardia Civilia” or whatever Spain likes to call their police really enjoy smacking tourists around will billy clubs.

        1. Sorry, but what a stupid and patronizing comment to make, obviously from the uttermost ignorance. Please, show just an instance of what you said. In fact, Spanish police (both national police and Guardia Civil) are so afraid to be accused of abusing their power, racism and whatnot, that they actually put up with shit which I know for a fact English police wouldn’t tolerate, and if anything, in general they tend to be ridiculously permissive

      2. Yeah, continental police come from a very different place philosophically from American or British police. You see a lot more police with automatic weapons there too.

      3. Yes, in the infamous “don’t talk to the police” youtube video, the detective who spoke at the end said that when he did consulting in europe, he was shocked that almost all police interviews “begin physically”.

        1. Was the detective American? I don’t know the video.

      4. While the french police is bad by european standard it is still much better than the US police : there is many more civilians killed by the the latter (almost ten times more by inhabitant !*).

        (I know this number is not the alpha and omega of police brutality but in this case I think it is kind of representative of the whole reality.)

        *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_by_country

  2. Telling that Reason’s stock photo of a “protest” is a building engulfed in flames.

    The article itself may as well be titled “In defense of beheadings and other uses of the hacker’s veto”. It’s not like this poor downtrodden minority has ever carried through on their vile threats, right.

    1. Well, it is France. Setting cars on fire is pretty much the standard method of protest there.

      1. And attempting to burn people alive is the Reason standard bearer for peaceful protest.

        1. I don’t know that I’d say that.

          1. Sorry, but what a stupid and patronizing comment to make, obviously from the uttermost ignorance. Please, show just an instance of what you said. In fact, Spanish police (both national police and Guardia Civil) are so afraid to be accused of abusing their power, racism and whatnot, that they actually put up with shit which I know for a fact English police wouldn’t tolerate, and if anything, in general they tend to be ridiculously permissive.

    2. It’s not a stock photo. It’s clearly cited.

      Protests in Paris on November 29. (Meryl Curtat/SIPA/Newscom)

  3. Porte ton masque!

    1. Mais ça limite ma capacité à rire des stupides cowboys américains

      *google translate – I only speak ‘merican.

      1. l’lol

  4. Fascists gotta be fascists.

    1. How soon before they move their capitol to Vichy?

      1. Yes

  5. i>an attempt to shield French authorities from accountability and criticism for their own misdeeds

    Take a good look. These are the people that Trump was accused of embarrassing our country in front of.

    Froggies trying to out-prog the proggies.

  6. > a music producer, who was stopped by police in Paris for not wearing a mandatory coronavirus mask on Nov. 21. According to NPR, surveillance footage captured three officers forcing their way into his studio and beating him.

    Wait… he was indoors without a mask? And the police busted down his door so they could beat him for not wearing a mask indoors in his own studio? C’est des conneries!

    1. He was outside his studio on the street about to enter his place and they pushed him from the news accounts I saw.

      Not that it matters.

    2. Oh, no mask, then was 1000% deserved.

  7. “This weekend’s protests were inspired by the beating of a 41-year-old black man, Michel Zecler, a music producer, who was stopped by police in Paris for not wearing a mandatory coronavirus mask on Nov. 21. According to NPR, surveillance footage captured three officers forcing their way into his studio and beating him.”

    That is horrible, cops shouldn’t be doing stuff like that. Don’t they have a French antifa to do the home invasion and beatings instead?

  8. So, after a little digging, this is what I found out about proposed Article 24:

    https://www.thelocal.fr/20201109/france-proposes-bill-to-ban-photos-and-videos-that-identify-police-officers

    Most controversial is the bill’s clause 24, which would criminalise the publishing of any photos or videos where a police officer or gendarme could be recognised, if there is an intent to harm their “physical or psychological integrity”.

    Article 24 bans “disseminating, by any means or medium whatsoever, with the aim of harming their physical or mental integrity, the image of the face or any other identifying element of an officer of the national police or member of the national gendarmerie when acting during a police operation.”

    Offenders would risk one year in prison and a €45,000 fine.

    The bill was later amended to include a precision that the intent to harm must be “manifest” and that the law should not interfere with press freedom.

    I am thinking, would such a bill be completely objectionable in this country? I am thinking back to this summer’s protests in Portland when the right-wingers around here were generally defending the police camouflaging themselves so that they wouldn’t be “doxxed”. If a bill similar to Article 24 were introduced here, would it be uniformly opposed? I don’t know.

    1. In theory such a law here should not be enforceable per the first amendment, which doesn’t mention any qualifiers like “make no law … abridging the freedom of speech except when it may endanger police….” Alas, the SCOTUS has found quite a few qualifiers hidden within the first amendment during WWI and decades following. It wasn’t till the 1960s that the SCOTUS started reversing itself on those earlier cases. As best I can tell from history, justices disregard the plain meaning of the constitution during wars and other national stresses that politicians feel they must act on. You can lead a justice to the constitution and even swear an oath to uphold it, but you can’t make them act on it.

    2. Seems like two separate questions. Whether police must always make their identity plain in public and whether people can publish photos of police. The latter is clearly protected as freedom of the press. I don’t think the former is constitutionally required, but seems like a good policy in general.

    3. the right-wingers around here were generally defending the police camouflaging themselves

      That never happened, but nothing is going to dissuade you from going on about how real authoritarians are anyone who calls out your progificating.

      Article 24 is no different than hate speech laws. The left will be all for it once they figure out how to weaponize it against the kulaks.

    4. You kind of answered your question. We libertarians like the ability to film the police, and police, knowing that’s a reality might, on occasion, cover their faces. So the question isn’t about ‘right wingers’ and filming police, the question you’re really posing is “should police be allowed to wear masks”.

      1. Well, yeah, sort of. What is the difference between police not wearing masks but it’s illegal to film them, to protect their identities – as in France – and police wearing masks so you don’t know their identities, but it’s legal to film them?

        1. Seems pretty obvious that the general public, and the politicians they vote for, like all sorts of dumb unconstitutional shit. So what?

        2. Because if there is a film of officers committing crimes, and it gets national attention, even if they cannot be individually identified in the video, inspectors and reviewers can find which officers were present. The entire department would get in trouble and the officers involved could be disciplined. This would be possible even if they were in full Star Wars Stormtrooper armor. However, if you cannot film the officers at all, getting public outcry is much harder.

          If article 24 was enforced with the strictest interpretation, you are right, it wouldn’t be bad. However, do you genuinely think that such a law would not be abused?

    1. Well yes…because voting certainly doesn’t work.

  9. Whatever we can do to avoid pointing out the police in Europe are now beating people for not wearing masks, I’m on board with. Let’s keep the discussion relegated to the filming law, and keep pretending that mask mandates and laws are just “suggestions” and “politeness”.

  10. Funny how the French government only listens to the people when they set crap on fire and cause mass disruption.

    I’m glad that in the US, we have orderly and honest elections to peacefully resolve the needs of the people…oh wait…I guess not anymore.

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