French President Emmanuel Macron has said that footage showing police attacking a black man in Paris is ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the violent arrest of Michel Zecler, a music producer who says he was racially abused by officers.
The incident, which took place inside the entrance to his studio in the 17th arrondissement on Saturday, was captured on CCTV and mobile footage which was circulated widely online.
Four police officers involved are being held for questioning as part of the probe, according to the Paris Prosecutor’s Office.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Macron said: ‘The images we have all seen of the aggression against Michel Zecler are unacceptable, they are shameful for all of us.
‘France should never allow violence or brutality, no matter who it comes from.
‘France should never let hate or racism prosper.’
The president also said the country’s police force should set an example, adding: ‘Those whose job it is to apply the law should respect the law.’
Mr Zecler told reporters he was set upon by police at his studio in Paris’s 17th arrondissement on Saturday.
He said he had been walking in the street without a face mask – against French Covid-19 health protocols – and, upon seeing a police car, went into his nearby studio to avoid being fined.
However, he said, the police followed him inside and began to assault and racially abuse him.
He told reporters: ‘These people were supposed to protect me. I didn’t do anything to deserve that. I want these people punished by the law.
‘Of course I was afraid. I was lucky enough, unlike many other people, to have had the video that protects me. This shouldn’t happen.’
Mr Macron said he has asked the government to urgently make proposals to quell rising public anger over the footage – the latest in a string of alleged acts of police brutality against black and ethnic communities in the country.
French celebrities, sporting stars and politicians have all spoken out to condemn the attack, including footballers Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann.
Mbappé tweeted: ‘Unacceptable film. Unacceptable violence. My France has values, principles and codes (of behaviour)….stop racism.’
Dominique Sopo, President of anti-racism group SOS Racisme said Zecler had been the target of a ‘racist attack’.
He added: ‘For police officers to act that way they must have a tremendous feeling of impunity. This situation is a symptom of an impunity that has been going on for too long.’
Police already faced criticism this week after social media photos and videos showed officers hitting protesters as they cleared out an illegal migrants campsite in a central Paris square.
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