In a surprising move, the French interior minister has reversed a ban on the use of chokeholds by the police.
In a televised address last week, Christophe Castaner announced a prohibition on the use of chokeholds by police in arrests, and that it would no longer be taught in police academies.
The potent technique is one where police utilize a baton around the neck to restrain a person resisting arrest.
The minister also said he would hold “zero tolerance” for racist remarks, calling for the immediate suspension of any officer suspected of such behavior.
But in a Monday letter, Frederic Veaux, the director-general of the National Police, delineated to staff that chokeholds would continue “with moderation and discernment” and “as far as the circumstances require it.”
Chokeholds are widely utilized for law enforcement in many countries but its overuse has been the subject of scrutiny in the wake of global demonstrations against police brutality, ignited by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died on May 25 in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, after an arrest during which an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Use of excessive force on a suspect’s neck — via the chokehold and other methods — has at times proved fatal, as it did for Floyd.
Starting last Thursday, police held five days of protests in response in Paris and in other major cities, and their close relationship with Castaner gravely altered after his comments, particularly those surrounding alleged racism within the ranks.
Castaner felt the need to address the nation after demonstrations took place throughout France last week as well, those which also kept the spotlight on the death of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old man who perished in police custody in France in 2016.
Veaux outlined in his letter that a working group has also been put in place, starting Wednesday, to bring forth less invasive methodology for restraint, with findings due on Sept. 1.
It was announced as well on Monday that stun guns would be tested for further and more widespread use as a more immediate method in arrests.
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