Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
A black man arrested by police in possession of cannabis and cocaine has been freed after a judge deemed that he had been stopped as a result of racism – despite the arresting officer also being black.
The bizarre case took place in the commune of Creteil just outside Paris in the Val-de-Marne department in the Ile-de-France region and has reportedly caused outrage with police officers.
The incident took place on Tuesday 23rd June and involved plainclothes police officers from the BAC (Brigade Anti Criminalite).
Local media report that plainclothes police officers from the BAC arrested a young black man “of African origin” and aged around 20, whose name has not been revealed due to local privacy laws.
French newspaper Le Parisien report that the young man raised suspicions when he wrote something on his phone and turned on his GPS on his scooter. This was enough for the officers to decide to intervene.
One anonymous police source was quoted in local media as saying the arrest was based on “flair” – a gut feeling, saying: “It’s called flair. These guys are paid to have it.”
They took him down to the police station and informed the Creteil prosecutor’s office of the arrest.
But the judge was having none of it.
It is illegal in France for police officers to make someone submit to a check based on “flair” alone.
She reportedly told them: “In fact, you checked him because he is black.”
The prosecutor’s office then told them to release the suspect.
According to local media, the judge admitted that the topic of racism within the police force at the moment was an issue that had complicated matters.
One officer was quoted as saying: “To say that the reason we checked him was because of the colour of the suspect’s skin, that was a hard pill to swallow.”
Cops are reportedly outraged, despite one high-ranking officer, unnamed, telling Le Parisien that “to continue to maintain good relations with the prosecutor’s office, we have to put it into perspective.”
But one cop is particularly outraged, according to reports, and that would be the BAC officer, also unnamed, who made the arrest, and whose “skin is as black as the suspect’s.”
The BAC and the prosecutor’s office have reportedly discussed what they diplomatically termed a “clumsy” situation.
According to Professor Cathy Lisa Schneider, 65, an American author and professor of urban politics, comparative social movements, and criminal justice, who is a professor at the American University School of International Service (in her 2014 book ‘Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York’), the BAC “was created in 1994 for the sole purpose of surveillance and control of immigrants and residents of ‘sensitive’ neighbourhoods, particularly public housing projects.
“The BAC is the most hated police unit in the ‘banlieues’ [council estates (UK)/projects (USA)].”
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