Justice for Théo: A Symptom of a Bigger Problem

In her new blog, our Elli Hoai Anh analyzes the reasons leading to the Justice for Théo protests, while shedding light on the history of police brutality in France.

In her new blog, our Elli Hoai Anh analyzes the reasons leading to the Justice for Théo protests, while shedding light on the history of police brutality in France.

  • Earlier in February, a black Frenchman, only identified as Théo, became a victim of sexual assault by the French police. The incident sparked a series of protests, which certainly did not go unnoticed by the French media. It has, however, become clear that the media coverage both in France and across Europe centered on a rather different issue: multiple headlines portrayed the demonstrations as an outbreak of violent riots and loss of control by the French authorities, completely disregarding the unjust event. This has shifted the focus away from what has initially led the public to march and left the abuse unaddressed.
  • When looking closer at the recent history of police brutality in France, this will come as no surprise; the death of a young black man, Adama Traoré, near Paris last summer and the muted response by the French authorities prompted similar accusations of police violence. What has subsequently become known as the “Justice for Théo” protest was a result of France’s continuous negligence of a much larger systemic problem.

France, infamous for the denial of its racial problems, has made little progress toward combating the police conflicts that often arise from racially motivated identity checks and discrimination. However, it would be difficult to fully grasp the tensions without understanding France’s much neglected colonial past. Increasingly, descendants of migrants from the formerly colonized African and North African countries have become main targets of racial profiling by the police. A clear distinction can be drawn between which ethnic groups are subject to policing: this particularly includes black and Arab minorities. During the 1960s, these practices were institutionally legitimized, as they were aimed at asserting authority and securing colonial hegemony. Racial profiling became a part of police conduct against people of different race or religion. Although contemporary racism cannot be solely attributed to the dark history, it is essential to note that it is an ever-evolving feature that resembles the system inherited from the past.

Despite the media depiction of the protests, voicing opinion and taking actions publicly represent major steps in combating unfair treatment from the police and should not be regarded negatively. In fact, it is the silence that embodies a tacit culprit in racism.

The current phenomenon of colorblindness dominates the French political discourse, which fundamentally contributes to the problem. The country’s reluctance to acknowledge racial differences is demonstrative of a political culture that allows for abuse and discrimination, essentially by refusing to recognize that such problems are a result of denial of racial diversity in the first place.

The full article is available on BlogActiv.eu


#France #human rights #police brutality #discrimination #colonialism

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