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‘We work in fear’: 100s of French officers protest violence against police

A recent Molotov-cocktail attack on police in a Paris suburb that left one officer in critical condition has sparked hundreds police officers to rally across France to protest the violent assaults for a second night.

The first demonstration was staged on Paris’ central Champs-Elysées on Monday night, when some 500 officers joined the protest, according to French media.

“We’re sick of hearing about colleagues getting attacked,” one officer told BFM TV. “And on top of it all, it feels like we’re getting no emotional response from the government.”

“My wife is afraid for me when I go to work,” another added.

One more officer told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that they “organized” the rally “via social networks and by word of mouth.”

“One can understand that officers who work in [troubled] areas and do not see political decisions to change the situation on the ground for years,” said Christophe Rouget from SCSI police union.

Monday’s gathering in Paris fueled a second night of protests across France on Tuesday night, when some 400 police officers gathered near the police department in the Evry commune of Paris’ southern suburbs, according to AFP figures.

“Our hierarchy doesn’t understand the malaise of officers,” one officer in Evry told the agency.
Sixty others gathered in front of the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, where the injured police officer is being treated.

A hundred police officers also took to the streets of Marseille chanting La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.

Some 70 officers gathered for a demonstration in the French resort town of Nice, which saw one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in French history in July, when up to 80 people were killed.

“We want to fight against the trivialization of violence against the police,” a local officer told the Nice Matin newspaper. “We want to be heard by our hierarchy and by the judiciary. If we become victims ourselves, who will protect the public?”

“We are in huge demand, but younger colleagues are being discouraged,” he added.

“We are tired of going to work in fear,” the officers said, as cited by Nice Matin.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that he “understood” the officers’ “exasperation,” but “demonstrating with lights flashing on their police cars is not consistent with police ethics of the French Republic.”

READ MORE: French Police say lawless ‘no-go’ areas exist, challenge PM Valls who says they don’t 

Four police officers were injured earlier in October, when their cars were set ablaze in Grande Borne, a troubled working class housing estate in Viry-Châtillon in the southern suburbs of Paris.

One of the victims of that attack is still described as being “between life and death,” according to police officials. No one has been arrested in connection with the incident since the attack.

The National Observatory of Delinquency and Criminal Responses released a report, saying that the number of police officers injured in violent attacks rose by 25 percent in 2015, compared to 2014, according to media reports.

According to the document, at least 5,674 police officers were injured while on duty in 2015, while in 2010, the number had stood at 4,535. In addition, the number of injured gendarmes, who are considered part of the French Armed Forces, jumped to 1,807 in 2015, compared to 1,408 in 2010.