OPINION / JOSH FEHNERT
Law unto themselves?
The warm day of the Fête de la Musique celebrations across France began like many in late June. But by 04.30 in Nantes – long after the music was supposed to stop – police charged in to disperse the remaining revellers and a clash ensued. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and unsheathed tasers to force the recalcitrant few from Quai Wilson. In the melee, 15 people ended up in the River Loire; one, teaching assistant Steve Maia Caniço, is believed to have drowned.
More than a month later, posters emblazoned with the question “Où est Steve?” still festoon Nantes; there was also a 700-person march against police brutality there last weekend. Yesterday a body believed to be Caniço’s was finally pulled from the water. The French public can now move from asking where he is to why he died but the boys in blue will have an awkward time answering that question.
This isn’t the first time that the French police’s heavy-handedness has been called into question on Emmanuel Macron’s watch. At a time when polling around the world shows that trust in politicians is plummeting – not least in Hong Kong – the police should police themselves ever more carefully if they want to preserve an increasingly dog-eared social contract.