By: Rahul Adhikari
April 5 2023
An old video of French police throwing handcuffs on the ground to protest against the chokehold ban has been falsely shared as a recent demonstration.
For several weeks, France has been witnessing protests, strikes, blockades, and unrest in response to proposals to raise the official retirement age from 62 to 64, along with higher pension contributions. More than a million people have participated in nationwide demonstrations across France to protest in response, which turned violent in Paris and other cities, with clashes reported between the protesters and police.
Amid this, a video of police officers throwing handcuffs on the ground has been circulating on social media, implying that this is from recent protests. The viral footage shows police officers standing in line at night time against flashing lights, and as the camera moves, the officers can be seen discarding pairs of handcuffs onto the ground. The caption of one Facebook post read, "Police in France 🇫🇷 are throwing away their handcuffs in protest. The NWO is almost finished. Please SHARE! This is not in the MSM News!!!" The post has garnered 6,700 views and 448 likes. However, this claim is misleading.
A reverse image search revealed that the viral video dates back to 2020. Russian media organization Ruptly posted the video on Twitter on June 14, 2020, and wrote, "#Police throw down #handcuffs in #ArcdeTriomphe protest in #Paris #France." Further investigation revealed the video was taken in June 2020 during a police protest against Interior Minister Christophe Castaner's decision to ban the controversial chokehold technique, where officers immobilize suspects by compressing their necks. This controversial method led to global protests in 2020, reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd was killed in the same manner, when a law enforcement officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
Time magazine reports that France has been criticized by both national and international organizations for police brutality and racial profiling. In 2016, Adama Traoré, a black Malian-French man, died at the hands of law enforcement officers. His death was later ruled by an independent autopsy to have been caused by the violent nature of his arrest.
According to the BBC, during the 2020 protests, police officers gathered near Champs-Élysées in central Paris to protest against the government ban on the chokehold technique. Castaner announced the ban after residents hit the streets, alleging that French police exhibit racism against ethnic minorities. After the announcement, outraged police officers threw their handcuffs onto the ground, reportedly offended by the allegations that they tolerated racism.
While we could not find the same video uploaded by any other news channel, Brut published a similar video on June 14, 2020, of police officers protesting at night and throwing their handcuffs in front of the Arc de Triomphe. We further cross-referenced those visuals with images in a Reuters report published the same day. A similar image, published by AFP, was also cited in a news report on the protest by French regional news outlet La Voix du Nord.
The viral video was filmed in 2020 during a protest against a ban on the use of the controversial chokehold technique by police officers. The video showing police throwing handcuffs on the ground is unrelated to the recent protests in France. Therefore, we have marked this as misleading.