French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Interior and Overseas Minister Gerald Darmanin are trying to respond to the riots. EPA-EFE/YVES HERMAN / POOL MAXPPP OUT


Macron suggests ‘financial punishment’ for rioters’ families


In response to the violent riots that erupted in France, where large numbers of youths have rampaged in a spree of country-wide destruction, French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested financial punishments be levied against their families.

Macron visited local police forces in Paris, one of the worst-hit cities, on the evening of July 3 to show his support for law enforcement officers, urging them to remain on high alert.

During his surprise meeting with officers from the anti-crime squad (BAC), Macron referred to the possibility of financial penalties for the families of offenders.

At the meeting, one BAC officer said that to dissuade young people from engaging in such violence, “You have to hit them in the wallet, that’s the only thing that works.” In response, Macron spoke of introducing “a sort of minimum rate for the first time someone does something stupid”.

“We should be able to punish families financially and easily for the first offence,” he said, according to Le Parisien.

However, he was reluctant to entertain the possibility of withdrawing family allowances.

Macron’s visit to law enforcement agencies came following the death of Nahel, 17, shot dead a week ago in Nanterre by a policeman during a traffic stop, sparking the wave of rioting that has continued for several nights.

On Sunday, Macron had highlighted the responsibility of parents to control their offspring, given the fact that one-third of those arrested in the riots were minors. In a speech, he also lamented the role of social media and video games among the young.

The BAC officers expressed their growing unease at the situation, saying that the police no longer “frightened” young would-be offenders.

“Now, every time there’s an event, even a football match, we know it’s going to end like that. They take advantage of it to break things,” said one of the officers present at the meeting with Macron.

The police also expressed their belief that “the kids” no longer listened to their parents but to “the dealers”.

“In fact, they’re the ones who have been asking them [young rioters] to calm down for the past two days, because all this mess is damaging their business,” one officer claimed. “It’s been a week since the drugs business has been running at a standstill.”

The idea of financially punishing the parents of arrested youngsters regularly comes up in public debate in the face of such delinquency. On the Right side of the political spectrum, across party lines, many want to cut the social benefits of rioters and their parents.

Nicolas Lacroix of Les Republicains (LR), the major French centre-Right party, wants to suspend their housing subsidies. He also wants the juvenile justice system to deal with offenders more harshly. His fellow party member Eric Ciotti said he suggested similar legislation in 2010 but, at the time, socialist French President François Hollande made that impossible.

Jordan Bardella, of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National (RN) party, called for “abolishing child benefits for parents of multi-recidivist minors when educational deficiencies are proven”.

Right-Wing firebrand Eric Zemmour echoed the sentiment: “Parents are responsible for 13-year-old children, we can take away their social benefits.”

Some on the Right have referred to rioting minors as the most privileged residents in the country, contrary to mainstream thinking.

Zemmour pointed out that the vast majority of the youths in question live in big cities, where there are ample financial and economic opportunities, a range of social benefits and helpful measures regarding schooling. In addition, he said the French Government invests heavily in the areas where most of the rioters live.