FRANCE: Families of victims of police violence demand the prohibition of deadly arrest techniques and weapons used by the police

Local groups and families demand the truth in court cases concerning victims of police violence are calling for a demonstration on 14 March 2020. The petitioners:

Collectif Vies Volées (Paris, 20e)
Comité Adama (Beaumont-sur-Oise, 95, et Ivry, 94)
Famille Dieng et le comité Vérité et Justice pour Lamine Dieng (Paris, 20e)
Famille d’Angelo Garand et le collectif Justice pour Angelo (Blois, 41)
Awa Gueye et le collectif Justice et Vérité pour Babacar Gueye (Rennes, 35)
Comité Justice et Vérité pour Wissam El Yamni (Clermont-Ferrand, 63)
Comité Vérité et Justice pour Gaye Camara (Champs-sur-Marne, 77)
Collectif Selom et Matisse (Lille, 59)
Comité Justice pour Ibrahima Bah (Villiers-le-Bel, 95)
Comité Vérité pour Curtis (Massy, 91)
Comité Vérité et Justice pour Morad Touat (Marseille, 13)
Comité Justice pour Liu Shaoyao (Paris, 19e)
Comité Vérité et Justice pour Ali Ziri (Argenteuil, 95)
Haby Koumé sœur d’Amadou Koumé (Saint-Quentin, 02)
Les parents et la sœur de Rémi Fraisse
Collectif Vérité et Justice pour Mehdi (Vaux-en-Velin, 69)
Florica Floarea et le comité Vérité et Justice pour Dorel (Vigneux-sur-Seine, 91)
Salah Zaouiya et l’association Mémoire Jawad Zaouiya (Mantes-la-Jolie, 78)
Justice pour Mehdi Bouhouta (Vaux-en-Velin, 69)
Famille Touré et le comité Vérité et Justice pour Zakaria (Troyes, 10)
Syakha Traoré, frère de Bouna (Clichy-sous-Bois, 93)
Geneviève Legay (Nice, 06)
Franck Lambin, père d’Allan (Saint-Hilaire-des-Landes, 35)
Assemblée des Blessés
Les Mutilés pour l’exemple

The French Ligue for Human Rights also suppors the mobilization.

Below you find the call for support.

Translated from French with, French version below

“LET US BREATHE” – Appeal from families [of victims of police violence] against deadly arrest techniques and weapons by the police

To be shared and signed everywhere: a strong call from families against impunity for police violence. For the prohibition of deadly restraint techniques and weapons of war [used] against the people. A big demonstration will take place on March 14th in Paris.

Cédric Chouviat is the first death of the year due to police violence. Will he be the last one on the long list of people killed by the police? Statistics from previous years make us fear that this will not be the case.

Twenty-six deaths in 2019, how many in 2020?

We give our full support and solidarity to Cedric’s family to obtain the peace and justice they demand.

This is also our story. We have been asking truth, justice and peace also for Lamine Dieng, 25 years old, who died as a result of lateral vascular neck restraint (in French: clé d’étranglement) and prone restraint (in French: plaquage ventral). The same happened to:

Adama Traoré, 24 years old;

Aboubacar Abdou, 31 years old;

Abdelhakim Ajimi, 22 years old;

Abou Bakari Tandia, 38 years old;

Ricardo Barrientos, 52 years old;

Mohamed Boukrourou, 41 years old;

Massar Diaw, 24 years old;

Philippe Ferrières, 36 years old;

Mariame Getu Hagos, 24 years old;

Serge Partouche, 28 years old;

Wissam El Yamni, 30 years old;

Abdelilah El Jabri, 25 years old;

Amadou Koumé, 33 years old;

Mamadou Marega, 38 years old;

Mohamed Saoud, 26 years old.

Ali Ziri, 69 years old, died after “pliage”;

Abdelhak Goradia, 51 years old, died by asphyxiation in a police vehicle…

Dozens of others [have died because of] “heart attack“, “asphyxiation“, “natural death“, without further information being provided to their families.

On January 3, 2020, Cédric Chouviat was the one who died by asphyxiation after a lateral vascular neck restraint and prone restraint. The witnesses of his arrest confirmed what we have always denounced: the deliberate use by police officers of extremely violent and “potentially lethal” techniques, as their official definition implies. Lateral vascular neck restraint, prone restraint and “pliege” are three techniques aiming to immobilise a person by compressing his chest and neck to impede breathing. However, the harder the compression, the more the person is deprived of oxygen and the more they wrestles. And the more the officers increase their pressure. And the more [likely] this violence kills.

Despite France’s repeated condemnations by the European Court of Human Rights and the UN, these techniques continue to be practised and to cause death. Despite the condemnation of these practices by the League for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture, the State continues to defend the “work” of its agents.

Like Cédric’s wife, children and father, we trusted the justice system in our country. But while seeking the truth about the violence that killed our loved ones we discovered the reality of a systematic denial of justice for the victims. A denial fostered by a culture of real deception that leads to a culture of injustice.

The Chouviat family has already suffered the same treatment from the authorities that we have experienced: failure to inform the relatives, followed by a false statement about the cause of death; disregard for any basic compassion; an attempt to criminalise the victim in order to dehumanise him, while the people responsible for their death remain in office. So much suffering, insults and vilification that are added to the pain of the families.

These initial distortions of the truth justify years of lengthy proceedings, administrative inquiries and investigations that are careless of or even incriminating towards the victims and their families. And, of course, [they involve also] considerable legal costs. The victims and their families face an entire system revealing permanent impunity for members of police forces who injure, mutilate and kill. It is a [form of] legal violence that justifies, absolves and perpetuates police violence.

These persistent abuses used to be “restricted” to the people living in working-class neighbourhoods, as the Movement for Immigration and Suburbs denounced more than twenty years ago. Today, they spill over into city centres. And all those who have witnessed the furious crackdown by the police against social movements can now understand the state violence imposed on us.

This legalised violence, now visible even in middle-class neighbourhoods, is also carried out with weapons classified as weapons of war. Again, these were first used in our suburbs. The Flash-Ball appeared in 1999 and it immediately stunned Ali Alexis in Villiers-sur-Marne. This weapon was replaced by the LBD, which was “inaugurated” in 2007, in Villiers-le-Bel, to suppress the riot of its inhabitants after the deaths of Moushin and Laramy, who were hit by a police vehicle. Grenades like the one that killed Rémi Fraisse in 2014, or the one that murdered Zineb Redouane in 2018, like those that mutilated dozens of people and seriously injured hundreds of others during the last demonstrations, are the same ones that have been detonating in our neighbourhoods for almost ten years.

These are not “mistakes” or “oversights“, but regular practices authorised by a State that has asserted the power to seriously injure, mutilate or kill a man for an identity check.

For these reasons, we demand:

  • a total ban on law enforcement officials on the use of all restraint techniques that may obstruct the respiratory system;
  • a total ban on the use of weapons of war in law enforcement (LBD, GMD grenades, GM2L and similar);
  • the establishment of a public body independent from the police and gendarmerie to investigate complaints against law enforcement officers;
  • the introduction of regulations that involve the family from the time of death (autopsy authorized only after an interview with the family and the forensic medical services).
  • an annual report published by the Ministry of the Interior:
    1. of the number of people injured or killed by the action of law enforcement police officers,
    2. the number of complaints filed for violence by law enforcement officials,
    3. of the number of convictions issued.

And we call on all of you to join us on March 14 in Paris for the march on the International Day against Police Violence.

To support us, sign the appeal at: UsBreathe