Every good story starts with “There was this black guy.” So:
There was this black guy in France. He was coming back to his music studio and right as he opened the door, 4 cops noticed he was defying the COVID mask mandate and reeked of pot. The cops approached him peacefully to ask him a few question and possibly give him a small citation of 200 Euros for Marijuana possession. However the man later identified as Michel Zecler suddenly turned violent, pulled them into his studio, and started attacking them. The police showed great restraint by not using any weapons to subdue the man, and took him into custody.
This was the official story on French news until security camera footage was released showing that the cops shoved Zecler into his studio, kept calling him the N-Word, and beat the shit out of him for 6 minutes straight. Those French cops had great cardio. Even professional MMA fighters sometimes have a hard time going for 6 minutes of continuous action. Here’s the link to the video. Obviously NSFW.
We can speculate whether the attack was racially motivated, if these cops were just a few bad apples, if they were COVID white knights trying to reprimand an unmasked man, and a litany of other possibilities.
Whatever your thoughts on the above topics, I think we can all agree that had it not been for the video, Michel Zecler’s future would be completely different. His trial would have lasted much longer while information was gathered from both the police and other witnesses. There also would have been a good chance that the judge sides with the cops and Zecler goes to prison. But because there was video showing the whole thing happen, coming to a conclusion on what transpired is much easier.
France and its prime minister Macron are now trying to make the creation of video evidence illegal when it comes to actions taken by the police. The proposed law prohibits filming police and gendarmes* (a French military branch that focuses on attacks on its own citizens instead of foreign powers) if they filmed “with intent to harm”. Violators would get up to 1 year in jail plus a a fine up to $41,000.
Any video showing police officers committing a crime will inevitably harm that officer. So in effect this law prohibits shooting video evidence of cops committing any crimes.
Can you imagine if a police officer molests you or your kids, and YOU go to jail because you caught it on a security camera?
This law is being proposed in an effort by French President Macron in order to attract far right voters in his upcoming reelection.
The lesson here is that if you want to impact policy, you should belong to a group that’s willing to change their vote if your demands aren’t met. If you’ll always vote democrat or republican no matter what, you’ll never influence government. This is especially true in democratic governments like France and America where police improvement is considered a chess piece by politicians to use to get more votes.
When Edward Snowden came out with his revelations that governments (including France) were spying on its own citizens, the world governments continued their surveillance claiming “If you’re not doing anything wrong, there’s nothing you should be worried about.”.
So to use a French term, touché. Macron and the French police force shouldn’t be worried about civilian filming at all as long as they’re not doing anything wrong.