The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Youth Come Out Against Police Violence

Jun 15, 2020

This article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers’ group.

Despite the banning of demonstrations under the pretext of the public health crisis, rallies and protests denouncing police violence and impunity spread after June 2.

Twenty thousand people gathered on Tuesday in front of the courthouse in the Port de Clichy in Paris, thousands more at Saint-Étienne. Tens of thousands were on the streets once more on the following Friday and Saturday. More than a thousand in Caen, 4,000 in Strasbourg, 5,500 in Paris—these demonstrations develop, because the anger behind them remains strong. The death of George Floyd and the even more numerous demonstrations in reaction in the U.S. have also of course encouraged many people to go out in the streets.

The youth make up the bulk of these demonstrations. Many come from the working class, largely immigrant suburbs. For many, it was their first demonstration, and they discovered, to their surprise, their numbers and their anger.

Subjected to often humiliating police action, they don’t need journalists’ investigations to know that there are racist cops. For some, the insults and the profiling are everyday events, and the quarantine didn’t help.

When rookie police arrive from the four corners of France to the suburbs of Paris, for example, they are not necessarily racist. But the role that they take on quickly gives rise to suspicion toward the youth of these suburbs, especially the poorest. And in the suburban police stations, hidden from public view, it is common for arrested youths to suffer insults and even physical violence. The death of Adam Traore in Persan was preceded by that of Babacar in Rennes, killed by five bullets fired at point-blank range, and by the mutilation of Théo at Aulnay-sous-Bois. In every one of these cases, the state protected the cops and these crimes remain unpunished.

The youth have good reason to come out on the streets against police violence and racism. And the state is worried that their anger might turn against the system responsible for all of this rottenness.