The New York TimesThe New York Times

French police face scrutiny for heavy hand during pension protests

By Constant Méheut

11 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

An audio recording of French police officers intimidating young people has reignited a debate over harsh and discriminating tactics. The NYT speaks to some of those caught up in the controversy.

PARIS — “I would gladly have broken your legs.”

That’s what a French police officer told Souleyman Adoum Souleyman, a Chadian student who had just been arrested during a nighttime protest in Paris last month against the government’s unpopular pension overhaul. A minute later, another officer ordered Souleyman, the only Black person among the people rounded up, to “wipe that smile off your face” before slapping him.

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