Global Struggle: Confronting Police Violence Across Nations


It was a week ago in France: 553 municipalities affected, between 8,000 and 12,000 rioters according to the government. After the death of Nahel, a 17-year-old young man shot dead by a policeman, a movement of anger took hold of many cities and many neighborhoods, especially the most popular. Unprecedented violence with very heavy material damage and many questions that remain unanswered today. Will Emmanuel Macron launch a new city policy in poor neighborhoods, often deserted by public services? Other major projects on discrimination or police reform, while the UN last week called on France to tackle the problem of racism within its police forces. For the moment, it is precisely on the return to order that the president insists: he has emphasized the role of parents and the influence of social networks. Could the examples of other countries affected by riots enlighten France?

In the United States, a regular scene of demonstrations against police violence, the movement spread across the country in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, an African-American killed by a white police officer. Since then, in Minneapolis, the city where it all began, the authorities have been promising police reform that is long overdue.

• In London, it was the death of a black man killed by the police which had provoked strong riots twelve years ago. Five days of protests, five deaths, and there too promises of reform and hopes quickly shattered.

• For Sweden, 2001 marked a turning point. Violent clashes between demonstrators and police forces will lead to a complete reform of policing techniques: dialogue and de-escalation, rather than repression. But last year, riots in the suburbs of major cities undermined this strategy.

• South Africa remembers the 350 dead in the riots of July 2021, triggered by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. Two years later, the recommendations of a commission of inquiry are still far from being fully implemented and the country lives in fear of seeing such events repeat themselves.

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