Protesters gather for a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Paris, France, on June 2. (Pierre Suu/Getty Images)
Police officers in France have been caught privately sharing hundreds of racist, sexist and homophobic messages.
The messages were shared in a private Facebook group, which is made up of more than 8,000 police officers, gendarmes (paramilitary police) and family members of law enforcement.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, protests against racism and ongoing police brutality against Black people have broken out across the US and in other countries – including France.
French police officers in the Facebook group commented with racial slurs on pictures of a Black Lives Matter rally that was held in Paris on June 2 to protest racism and police brutality.
“It’s black with people!” one person wrote.
Another added: “No! It’s s**t black!”
A Seine-et-Marne police assistant added cry-laughing emojis to this discussion, then commented that this was “a dark story?”.
The group, called ‘TN Rabiot Police Officiel’, was created in 2015 for “information and debate on public security and the reality of work and the missions of the police”.
But instead, members share homophobic, racist and sexist “jokes” and memes.
When French-Algerian singer Camélia Jordana called out systemic police racism in France on May 25, members of the group responded by calling her a “slut” and a “whore”, with one person saying “I poop on her and spread her all over her face!”.
To join the group, members have to provide their police service number, as well as details of their position within the police or gendarmerie.
Journalists from French outlet StreetPress – a Paris-based independent news website – infiltrated the group, reporting that they had verified dozens of the members as being French law enforcement.
“Hidden from prying eyes, officials let go: in posts or comments, we can read hundreds of racist, sexist or homophobic messages and calls for murder,” StreetPress reported.
Following the revelations, French interior minister Christophe Castaner has said he will be taking legal action: “If proven, these unacceptable remarks are likely to seriously damage the honour of the national police and gendarmerie, whose men and women are engaged on a daily basis to protect the French, including against racism and discrimination.
“This is why the Minister of the Interior decided to seize the public prosecutor.”
A few hours after Castaner’s announcement, the public prosecutor’s office announced it was opening a preliminary investigation into “public insult of a racist nature” and “public provocation to racial hatred”.