French cops hold demos for 5th night in defiance of government ban
Hundreds of French officers have taken to the streets of the capital and several other cities for a fifth night of protests to express their frustration with working conditions under the almost year-old state of emergency in the European country.
The demonstrations took place on Friday in front of in front of the central police headquarters in Paris, and elsewhere in Calais, Lille, Toulon and other cities.
The Police officers said they are understaffed and are not sufficiently equipped even to defend themselves.
Friday’s rallies came despite a ban on such gatherings under the state of emergency in place since last November.
Thousands of police officers and soldiers have been deployed to guard airports, train stations and other public places in response to a spate of terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of over 230 people over the past two years across France.
The fourth night of demonstrations saw some 3,000 cops in attendance.
During Thursday’s event, an unidentified veteran with the National Police, said, “Our working conditions have deteriorated so much, we’re exhausted. Over the past year, … we’ve been worn down. There just aren’t enough of us.”
Another police officer, who identified herself as Nathalie also spoke out about works they are supposed to do beyond their duties.
“We’re asked to do things that have nothing to do with police work, like guarding theatres and synagogues and churches. It’s becoming unbearable, we can’t do it all,” she added.
Speaking from a European Council meeting in Brussels, French President Francois Hollande vowed to meet police representatives at his office early next week to hear their grievances.
Police discontent was fueled by an incident in Viry-Chatillon near Paris earlier this month, where a gang petrol-bombed four police officers in a patrol car.
Police say assailants tried to prevent the officers from getting out of the burning vehicle. Two of the four were seriously injured while one suffered life-threatening burns.
Unions believe that a surge in gang violence and militant attacks has put pressure on police forces.