Posts Tagged ‘police’


Educative descriptions of the kettle at Parliament Square in “Inside the Kettle” (Letters, London Review of Books, vol. 33, no. 1, January 6 2011).


It’s interesting how the French police contributes to the enhancement of the political education of students at Sciences Po:

“Police reacted with deliberate and overtly racist violence during celebrations in Paris after Algeria’s footballing victory over Egypt last Wednesday, a French student of Moroccan descent has alleged. In an account written on his Facebook page immediately after the events, and re-printed as the lead story in French daily Libération on Tuesday, 21-year-old Anyss Arbib claims he was assaulted for no reason, sprayed with mace and called a “dirty Arab”. Arbib, a fourth-year student at Paris’s elite Sciences-Po (Political Sciences) university, went into central Paris from his home in the northern suburbs of Bondy to celebrate Algeria’s victory with friends. ” (from “Have your say: French police violence”, France 24, November 24 2009)

With special encouragement from the Dean:

“It was not until a day later however, that Arbib decided to publish his account, after Sciences Po dean, Richard Descoings, encouraged him to do so.” (from “Alleged victim of police brutality told by uni dean it was “essential to publicise account”, France 24, November 24 2009)

Even Eric Besson, Sarkozy’s man for immigration and national identity, seems to be looking forward to meet this newly formed politician (see “Le cabinet de Besson contacte le ‘sale Arabe’ de Sciences-Po”, Rue89, November 24 2009). Congratulations to the forces de l’ordre for this pedagogical contribution! Students from prestigious foreign schools in political sciences (here, here, etc.) can now increase their curricula with just a spontaneous encounter with the CRS in central Paris. And it’s free!

This is a little reminder about how French policemen like to use their great weapon, the proverbial flash-ball (from Verney-Carron),  in order to to fight chaos and defend order: pointing straight towards the face of the “chaotic” (a note on terminology below). Someone lost an eye in a demonstration this summer in Montreuil. And the little device is now an acknowledged tag in the French media.

TV  journalist Mélissa Theuriau just got a little pushy on this and related topics with Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux (this blog’s old friend). Cops got pissed off and issued a letter saying that the lady was under the influence of evil anti-cop primal forces. Hey, perhaps she’s a “chaotic” too! Radical Chic rightly spotted the cops’ unconscious: she’s married to Jamel Debbouze, comedian of Moroccan descent, agent of the chaotic.

Note on terminology: “chaotic” means arabs, leftists and women (especially if they ask the right questions).

Online petitions are quite useless. That said, it doesn’t hurt signing one once in a while.

So French-reading followers of this blog might want to catch up on one most favorite theme — cops terrorizing people in planes from France to Africa, see a couple of old posts on that here and here — and sign the petition published by RESF to call for a withdrawal of all charges against André Barthélémy, president of Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme (a human rights organization) who, back in April 2008, had a word to say (“délit de solidarité”) during a flight to Brazzaville in which some people on board were screaming their complaint to the police agents that forced them in.

An extension of the petition is humbly added here, just in case it works, addressed to the national crew of expulsive efficiency: get lost.

Readers interested in the fate of quantified performance can have a look here at the performance targets which accompany the 2009 budget for the French Ministry of Immigration and National Identity (a gem of Sarkozy’s France, already blogged about here). The number of actual deportations (“nombre de mesures de reconduites effectives à la frontière”) should increase to 30,000 for next year. (On the problem of the sinister naming of managerial devices, check out also the meaning of the acronym GESTEL, the database upon which this counting is done here: it looks like it stands for “gestion de l’éloignement” that is, “management of estrangement” or “management of the taking away”.)

Well, national deportation statisticians should actually be thanked. They provided a quite astonishing slogan for the recent donation campaign for the CIMADE (a French organization helping migrants held in detention centers): “behind this figure, lives are shattered!”.

In the morning of Thursday April 17, 2008, at the Gare du Nord in Paris, passengers were boarding into the 8:25am Thalys train to Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. No border control to pass, since all countries involved are all happy members of the European Community, and their border control policy fall into the Schengen Agreement. But still, some vigilant agents from the customs authority were there to stop and interrogate passengers that look suspicious. Poor agents, torn by the difficulties of their almost impossible semiotic venture. Who shall they pick for interrogation? On the grounds of what? Is there something in a person’s face that should tell something meaningful about faulty behavior? Or should their drop any criteria altogether and put the fate of their vital task into the hands of blind randomness? Well, no. They found the solution to their epistemic quarrel in less than a second: pick the Negro.

The French newspaper Libération makes today available here a facsimile of a very instructive French administrative document:


You have expressed a request for the regularization of your administrative status in France.

I am pleased to inform you that requests for regularization are not handled through postal correspondence. You are kindly asked to proceed in person at the Police Station, Bureau for Foreigners, on Tuesday or Thursday morning, in order to request an examination of your case.

Sincerely yours,

The Prefect”

(from an administrative letter from the Préfecture de Nanterre, reproduced in “Quand les préfectures piègent les sans-papiers”, Libération, April 14 2008)

That’s another trick to catch some immigrant. An internal administrative note, commented also by Libération in the same article, explains how to proceed with the trick: when the obedient applicant pops up, first, the police agent has to ask for the victim’s passport and put it aside, then ask the victim or victims (if it’s a family) to sit in the waiting room, and then arrest them. This second note urges cops to do that conscientiously:

“Expelling foreigners in irregular situation is a priority mission for our services. We are committed to performance targets. I therefore ask you to implement these instructions with great zeal.” (quoted in “Quand les préfectures piègent les sans-papiers”, Libération, April 14 2008)

The game for today is to tell what kind of trick this is. Any guess?

(A hint: it’s not of the hidden camera prank kind.)

For the record: another person died last week out of Sarkozy’s statistical terror. On Friday April 5, the cops where using (as it is becoming usual) transportation fare control as a device to capture some immigrant at the Joinville-le-Pont RER station, near Paris. Someone jumped into the Marne and died of a heart attack. Here is some media coverage at Libération and Le Monde. There is also a statement by RESF (Réseau Education Sans Frontières) here. And Rue89 reported and attempt from associations at occupying the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in order to alert intellectuals.

Warning: when you take a flight from Paris to Casablanca, you may have the chance to sample some exquisite French administrative prose. Immigration cops gave this official leaflet to a passenger at the boarding gate:

“Sir, Madam,

You may have been asked to express opposition to the boarding in your same flight of a person who is in the process of being expelled out of the French territory on the bases of a legal decision. The following information is therefore brought to your attention. The decision of expulsion is a legitimate act. Any attempt at impeding or hampering the departure of the flight or at promoting protest among other passengers is a crime that will be punished by the law. Punishment is of five-years imprisonment and a 18,000 euros fee. Moreover, outrage and rebellion can translate into further prosecution, with penalties of six-months imprisonment and a 7,500 euros fee. If such crimes are committed in collective reunion, penalties are of one-year imprisonment and a 15,000 euros fee.” (from “Vol Paris-Casa du 27/02/2008”, Indymedia Paris Île-de-France, February 28 2008)

Quite terrorizing, isn’t it? Well, apparently some passengers of that flight thought it was still ok to say something before taking off when they started hearing someone screaming in the back of the plane, anyway. Seventeen CRS (French riot control forces) were sent into the plane to arrest some. According to the witness, the remaining passengers were, in effect, terrorized. Mission accomplished.

The Guardian mentioned recently the effective existence of an FBI program called “Server in the Sky” that seeks to foster police exchange of biometric data (“FBI Wants Instant Access to British Identity Data”, The Guardian, January 15 2008). Some readers may have thought “oh, this sounds familiar, probably connected to this other Total Information Awareness program that the US Department of Defense established in January 2002”. They err. If they check the website of the IAO (the Information Awareness Office, not to be confused with other same-name diabolic tunes), they will be able to verify that the “Total Information Awareness” program does not exist anymore in the visible world. That is the fate of US security programs with godly names.