Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for French police, saying his focus is on restoring “order” after riots broke out in parts of the country.
In his first public speech since the clashes over the shooting of a black teenager by police in late June, Macron thanked Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, for his handling of the outbreaks and expressed his condolences to the police and gendarmes who faced “unspeakable” and “unprecedented” waves of violence for days.
He stressed the importance of restoring public order.
“The first lesson I take from this is order, order, order,” the French president told journalists from TF1 and France 2 in a taped interview from New Caledonia, where he is on a diplomatic tour of the South Pacific.
“The second is that our country needs a return of authority at every level and first of all with the family.”
The speech was closely watched by police forces and trade unions in Marseille, where the detention of an anti-crime officer accused of beating a 22-year-old bystander into a coma has sparked outrage within the ranks.
The police unions condemned the decision to keep the officer in custody rather than release him under judicial supervision. In protest, officers have called in sick and unions have called for forces to lay down tools as a gesture of solidarity.
On Monday, Frédéric Veaux, head of the national police, fanned the flames by telling Le Parisien that “there is no place in prison for a police officer”.
While refusing to respond directly to Mr Veaux’s comments, Mr Macron said that while he “understands” their frustration, the police are subject to the same rule of law as everyone else.
“No one in the Republic was above the law,” Macron said.
In response to the “order, order, order,” First Secretary of the Socialist Party Olivier Faure tweeted, “Let’s stick to Liberty Equality Fraternity. Thank you.”
On the right, Republican Representative Aurelien Pradie called the interview “ridiculous” and empty.
“Presidential speeches reach heights of banality and emptiness. Political impotence is no longer possible. The challenges are too great. Too urgent. Far from small adjustments and haggling, everything has to be rebuilt.”
During the interview, the president also reiterated the need for parents to establish authority in the home to prevent future riots, while also acknowledging the role of the state, particularly for children from unstable, low-income or single-parent families.
“We need to empower certain families, we also need to support families in need, and we need to massively reinvest in our youth to give them structure.”
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