Police violence: the state and its police against the working class

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
20 February 2017

Breaking out in a pre-election period, the Theo affair could have provided the opportunity to address the problems that plague the young in working-class areas–police violence, massive unemployment, under-funded schools, etc. But the right wing and the FN (National Front) are trying to turn the situation on its head by dismissing these youths as “thugs”.

Fillon could not have found a better way to deflect everyone’s attention away from his non-existent job affair and is using the opportunity to call for minimum sentences, the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 16 and the building of more prisons. As if he didn’t already know that repressive measures inevitably fail to reduce delinquency—and the law already allows minors to be sent to prison!

What incredible arrogance coming from a man who showered his family with a million euros of public money and bought a manor house where he lives in luxury! And the fact that everyone knows this doesn’t stop him from standing for election. A typical bourgeois, he has an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. The working classes have effort, sacrifice and even prison. Fillon and the rich he serves have privileges.

These days, the state sends the police into working-class areas to maintain law and order. But the order they are defending is based on exploitation and injustice, a long way from the French Republic’s motto “Liberty, equality, fraternity”.

The police can of course be useful in today’s brutal society and everyone may need them at some point. But their main purpose is to defend the domination and power of the rich. No bourgeois will ever suffer the same violence as youths who live in low-income neighborhoods or workers who block factories or demonstrate when defending their jobs. The remit of the police is to silence those who challenge the capitalist order.

As more witnesses come forward, we learn more about the police in Aulnay-sous-Bois. The town’s police station is a haunt of extreme right-wing police officers who delight in using racist insults and provoking local youths. They humiliate the youngsters, hit them and even carry out barbaric acts against all those who stand up to them.

That’s why young Theo paid such a high price. He was brutalized because he lives in low-cost housing, because he’s black and because he didn’t bow down when faced with insults and blows from racist tormentors. Theo is our child, our brother, our dignity.

The police have received a lot of support since the aggression. From Le Pen and the right wing naturally, who demand that demonstrations be banned; demonstrations which are far from being comprised solely of rioters. These politicians are convinced that the police should be free to abuse without fear of being held accountable and with no recourse for their victims!

The attitude of the PS government is also scandalous. Yes, Hollande did visit Theo in hospital, hoping to calm the anger in the suburbs but his Minister for the Interior called Theo’s aggression an “accident”, using the same word as the perpetrators of violence themselves. Since 2012, the government has given its support to the police force, even in its most reactionary demands. Hollande had promised to instigate the issue of receipts for identity checks and yet his government’s first move was to back down on this. And now they are making the rules on the use of firearms more flexible, giving the police even more freedom to shoot legally.

The judicial system is, like the police force, a pillar of today’s social order. The police who attacked Theo are still free; the youths who threw stones have already been given prison sentences. The shareholders of PSA (Peugeot Société Anonyme), a major car maker, destroyed much more than a bus shelter when they shut down a 400-acre plant employing 3,000 workers in Aulnay-sous-Bois. They shattered the life of many working-class families but not one of them has been indicted. On the contrary, they are reaping sky-rocketing profits thanks to the layoffs! The judicial system serves the rich because laws are made to serve their interests.

To stop all this injustice, the world needs to be rid of capitalism, a system that grants every right to the rich and targets the workers who hold their head high. Once the workers are conscious of their collective strength, they will be strong enough to rid the world of capitalism. In the coming presidential election, by voting for our candidate, Nathalie Arthaud, workers will at least be able to say that they have had enough of capitalism and of its social system based on violence and exploitation.