“Our society must not be mistaken as to its target:
it is delinquants and criminals we must put behind bars.”
Brice Hortefeux, French Interior Minister,
commenting on the conviction of police officers
for aggravated violence and falsification of public documents
Nothing more surprising than to see the State strike at its own. Hortefeux may well have later received a slap on the fingers by some of his colleagues from the UMP party, the legislation on the proper attitude towards police is clear: they must be given a flawless respect and obedience, for they are in possession of the “public authority,” or act “in the exercise of their function,” etc.
Recently, American journalist Glenn Greenwald, noting the growing power abuses of the american state, which “go too far,” wrote despite it all that in the first place, the state is justified in “putting people in cages,” but that people had no such power. That imbalance is “normal,” but it must be monitored and must not develop to become tyrannical.
This original police poison, which spreads little by little, and which wants to make us believe the state is specially authorized to engage in certain actions, is at the root of such sentiments as expressed above: police should, by some unexplained magic, be immune from the consequences of its actions, including when caught red-handed.
But good intentions, nobility, deontological codes and other inventions of the state are very far from sufficient. Justice must be done. It is only that simple principle which authorizes the state, and any person or association of persons, to imprison, in some particular cases, some persons believed too dangerous to be left free. (And even that seems a suspicious power.)
The state cannot pretend to have sole authority, but only to have better organized procedures, which allow a best approximation of the correct judgement of affairs by human beings, capable of mistakes. And those procedures can be copied, improved, amended, etc. by independant tribunals which recognize the right to liberty before the commands of the bürokratie.
It is thus not the sole fact of wearing a uniform. The police officer has duties towards the justice of human rights, before he has obligations towards his superiors, for each is bound by this fundamental justice, superiors and subalterns, before any other law or decree that human beings may have written or passed.
If any “public authority” must be acknowledged, an authority to which everyone owes obedience and respect, it is certainly that of true justice. Three CRS beating up a refugee are just as much criminals, and must just as much be stopped and arrested at once, as three skinheads doing the same.