‘Justice for Nahel, no justice, no peace’—on a protest in Nanterre (Picture: Sudeducparis/Twitter)

Almost 100 trade unions, left political parties and campaign organisations have called for marches across France to express “mourning and anger” after the police killing of Nahel M. The CGT and Solidaires union federations, Jean-Luc Melenchon’s LFI party and the Uprisings of the Earth environmental group are among those backing “citizen marches” this Saturday.

Their joint statement says the “revolts that have shaken working class neighbourhoods” are the result of “the abandonment of these populations”. It says “decades of excesses of policing” have to change—and it also questions “the systemic racism that runs through the whole of society”.

The call for marches is positive—although it comes very late and after the state repressed the riots that powerfully fought back against the cops.

The organisations backing marches say, “Nothing can be done without the fight against poverty and precarity, exacerbated by climate change and rising rents and charges, and without strengthening public services and popular education.”

But its solutions are very limited. They concentrate on mild reforms of the police and the repeal of the 2017 law that boosted the cops’ ability to escape justice when they kill people.

Lucas, a teacher and socialist in Lyon, told Socialist Worker, “I will march. And I hope that these mobilisations will bring together the unions and those who have taken to the streets after Nahel’s murder. They must be more than usual parades which are actually a way of calming the fury.”

One demonstration had already been called on Saturday by the Truth and Justice for Adama Committee. He was a black French man killed by cops in 2016. His family and campaigners have refused to accept the state cover-up that followed.

Another demo will highlight the police killing of 19-year-old Alhoussein Camara in Angouleme. He died on 14 June, two weeks before Nahel’s murder, but his case has been almost ignored.

Alhoussein, from Guinea, was also stopped by police while driving a car. And again the cops say he was violent towards them. “I know so well that he couldn’t hurt this policeman, but how can you prove it without a video?” said his friend Bengaly.

“The police version and the details that we know don’t add up,” said Said, his workmate at an Intermarche supermarket logistics depot.

The police speak of a frenzied car chase—but Alhoussein stopped at traffic lights when he was followed. The cops say he was zig-zagging across the road—but no alcohol or drugs were found in his system. And he was out at 4am because that’s when he went to work. 

Alhouseein’s murder underlines the systemic state racism that is generally ignored—unless there are riots.

And that’s underlined by revelations that Florian M, the cop who shot and killed Nahel, is a decorated member of elite police units.

Now he is assigned to a traffic and road safety post. But, before that, he was in the Motorised Brigade for the Suppression of Violent Action, the infamous Brav-M. This has repeatedly been used against protesters

In May 2021, he collected a bronze medal for “acts of courage and dedication” from the Paris police chief. Le Figaro newspaper says he also received “eight letters of congratulation”.

Before Brav-M, Florian M was in another top unit— and part of a scandal. In May 2019 he became involved in a stop and search in a Paris suburb. CCTV images from a shop showed that one of Florian’s colleagues threw a bag at the feet of a man being checked, then picked it up. This bag contained cannabis.

The cops then arrested the man they had stopped, as well as another person who had tried to film this scene.

The CCTV shows Florian M arriving on a motorcycle during the arrest, and then pushing witnesses protesting against the police.

Nahel’s killer is a trusted state thug. The rage against him and the system that spawned him is entirely justified.

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