France: Exploitation, racism, police violence: the revolt is legitimate and necessary!

Image source: Toufik-de-Planoise via Wikimedia Commons

July 3, 2023 editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), translated from French.

The murder of Nahel, a teenager, by a police officer in Nanterre has awakened an anger that could not be more legitimate. In the suburbs of Paris as well as in other cities the nights of confrontation between young people from working-class neighborhoods and the police are continuing. Police stations and public buildings are targeted as symbols of institutions that oppress and discriminate against the working classes. And if and when the damage goes beyond these symbols, whatever we may think about it, it is so very little compared to the dismantling of public services, the crushing of labor protections and racist crimes like the one that has just taken Nahel, but also Alhoussein, recently killed by the police in Angoulême on his way to work.

On the other hand, the government is multiplying its curfews and bans on demonstrations, while the right and extreme right are calling for a state of emergency, and the government is considering it on a national scale. The inhabitants of working-class neighborhoods are already experiencing a state of social emergency.

This is the revolt of a part of our class

This social revolt is expressing “enough is enough!” Enough of being targeted by the police, of racial profiling, of police harassment, of daily police “blunders”, and more generally of being forgotten and left behind. Every one of these young people knows that they could have been in Nahel’s shoes – his murder is just one in a long list. They say he ran a red light and tried to escape from the police? So that’s reason enough to justify a summary execution… provided he was from a poor neighborhood! Because it’s not the Carlos Ghosns or the tax evaders who are likely to be killed by the police, and even less the bosses who rob us every day by blocking wages and speculating with inflation.

Police kill to maintain social order

This time, the video footage made it impossible for the justice system, political leaders and the media to go along with the police’s false version of events. Nahel’s murderer is in custody. But all these parrots of the ruling classes are looking for excuses for the murderer in the victim’s personality.

After all, this is a war against the poor who are legitimate targets to kill. The police unions are shamelessly declaring this: UNSA Police and Alliance (two police unions) stated in a press release that the police are “at war” against the “savage hordes”.  In a thinly veiled threat, they call for “legal protection for police officers”, in other words, a license to kill.

This racist police force, largely aligned with the extreme right, exists to control the working classes, to prevent and suppress their revolt, and it wants to do so with impunity. The government has given them carte blanche, with the approval of the National Rally (extreme right party of Marine Le Pen). The number of police casualties has been rising since the 2017 law ­– passed by President Hollande’s “left” party! ­– that relaxed the use of firearms for refusal to comply.

Against police violence, we need to get rid of the capitalist system

The reinforcement of police violence is the counterpart of President Macron and Interior Minister Darmanin’s authoritarian drift against the working population and its youth. This is the same police force that enforces anti-immigrant policies, that is responsible for the thousands of migrant deaths at the borders, that represses the Yellow Vests or the demonstrators defending pensions. Now is not the time for “appeasement”, but to take part in all demonstrations and initiatives against police crimes and the government’s anti-social policies.

The more poverty and low wages spread, the more working conditions deteriorate, the harder it is to make ends meet, and the more the police arm themselves. So, no to curfews and the state of emergency, justice for Nahel and all the victims of the racist police, and long live the revolt against this capitalist system that does nothing but crush our lives.