French police officers staged a second night of protests overnight and booed their boss to decry anti-police violence and what they say are insufficient resources to combat criminal gangs as well as the threat of further terrorist attacks.
Defying warnings of disciplinary action, hundreds of officers demonstrated in Marseille, Nice and Toulouse in a show of frustration that right-wing politicians have seized on to attack the Socialist government six months from an election.
Hundreds more jeered and hurled insults at national police chief Jean-Marc Falcone as he arrived for talks on security in Evry, a town near where a gang petrol-bombed four police officers in a patrol car earlier this month.
TV channels broadcast footage of hostile crowds surrounding Falcone’s car and plastering its windows with protest leaflets as he entered and left talks on crime in the area 30km south of the capital, Paris.
Last night’s protests followed another on Monday in which dozens of police cars, rooftop lights flashing, drove in convoy down Paris’s Champs Elysees avenue to vent their worries over their own safety.
Falcone has ordered an inquiry into what he called unacceptable behaviour by police officers and urged calm.
“I understand their exasperation, anguish and fear,” he told RTL radio before adding that police were nonetheless not allowed to protest during work hours or turn up to protests with police equipment such as official cars or weapons.
Opponents of President Francois Hollande say the number of no-go zones for police has proliferated during his mandate. Falcone defended the president who he said was still recruiting officers to fill thousands of posts axed by Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will meet police unions later on Wednesday in a bid to quell the protests.
In the Oct 8 attack, a mob of about 10 assailants petrol-bombed a police car in Viry-Chatillon, near Evry, that was stationed at a crossroads notorious for smash-and-grab robberies on motorists.
Police say the gang tried to prevent the officers fleeing the burning vehicle. Two of the four police inside the car were seriously hurt, with one suffering life-threatening burns.