France: minister criticised for saying “choke” when talking about police violence

France: un ministre critiqué pour avoir dit «s’étouffer» quand on parle de violences policières

Paris | The French Interior minister is Wednesday, under the fire of critics, having said that the use of the word “police violence” was “choke”, repeating the final words (“I’m choking”) of a man who died in January in Paris during his arrest by the police.

Speaking in front of mps, the new Interior minister Gérard Darmanin, like its predecessors, refuted on Tuesday the use of the term “police violence”. “When I hear the word “police abuse”, I personally suffocating me”, he said.

“The police exercised violence of course, but violence is legitimate,” which must be “proportionate” and “framed” and whose misuse should be punished, he explained.

France is experiencing a resurgence of mobilization against “police violence” after the death at the end of may in the United States of George Floyd, a black American, during his arrest by a white policeman. Among the slogans, “Let us breathe” refers to the last words of George Floyd: “I can’t breathe” (“I can’t breathe”).

In France, three police officers were convicted in July of manslaughter, after the death in January of Cedric Chouviat, courier and father of the family of 42-year-old, victim of a heart attack during his arrest hectic in Paris, during which he repeated seven times “I choke,” according to expertise.

Through his lawyers, Me William Bourdon, Arié Alimi and Vincent Brengarth, the family of Cedric Chouviat said Wednesday, “deeply outraged and struck” by the “ledge abject” Mr Darmanin.

“The words of the new minister of the Interior (…) of course cannot be accidental”, considered in a press release the lawyers, denouncing the “contempt” and the “cynicism of the minister of the Interior for the bereaved families or bruised by police violence”.

Several political leaders of the left have also denounced his remarks.

“Those who have stifled the police violence are unfortunately not here to talk about it. Terrible choice of words for a terrible denial guilty”, criticized on Twitter the mep Manon Aubry, member of the party of the extreme left BIA.

“Pathetic and appalling”, said the former boss of the party ecologist David Cormand.

“The words of the victims, divert and then turn them against them. #LesMotsTuent,” responded on Twitter, senator, socialist Laurence Rossignol.

Questioned by AFP, the entourage of Mr. Darmanin has denied that it has made reference to the death of Cedric Chouviat: “It is a French expression commonly used, understood by all. There was no after-thought. It is by no means a parallel with the case Chouviat.

The government spokesman Gabriel Attal has also ensured that declarations of Gérald Darmanin were “obviously not related” to the deaths of Cedric Chouviat.

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