The black French Champion kickboxer Patrice Quarteron has criticised activists and the Black Lives Matter movement in France in a video and interview published on the website of Le Parisien newspaper this week.
Patrice Quarteron, two time French and European Muay Thai champion and current holder of the IKF Muay Thai Super Heavyweight World titile, said in the video that he does not support the Black Lives Matter movement.
He says it is too focused on the idea of victimisation and that [the George Floyd killing] had “nothing to do with France” and had been deliberately used by campaigners.
The problems in the US, with its history of segregation, should not be compared to the situation in France, he said, maintaining that many immigrants to France from West Africa, like his parents, had found better lives than in the countries they had left.
In the outspoken video he also criticised the Justice for Adama campaign led by the sister of Adama Traoré, who alleges her brother, who died after being arrested in 2016, was the victim of police brutality. The case is still under investigation.
Adama’s family say he died because the police used 'undue' force on him, the police say he had an existing health complaint which caused his death.
'Massive defence' campaigns
In a separate interview also published on the website, Quarteron denounces the relative silence over the death on 4 July of a young white female police officer last week in southwest France, compared to what he called the “massive defence” [movements] launched following the death of black people after altercations with the police.
“Outrage should not be about the colour of someone’s skin,” he said.
The police officer, Mélanée Lemée, was run over by the driver of a vehicle trying to avoid a roadside check. The driver, who had a criminal record, was driving at high speed with no licence.
"Were there riots because Yassine [the name of the suspect] killed a police officer?” he asked. “If the police had shot Yassine, people would have said “They have killed Yassine”, there would have been murals painted in his memory, ‘Yassine for life’, and yet we are talking about a delinquent!
"A guy who forced through a police barrier and then tried to escape a second one. If the police officer had shot him, which is what I would have done, there would be gigantic demonstrations today. When there is a police control, I’m sorry, but you stop.”
'Scandalous and dishonest' claims
Quarteron grew up in Grand Borne, considered one of the tough districts on the outskirts of southern Paris and is dismissive of those who have never lived in these areas but still claim to understand them.
"I lived for 33 years in one of the poorest towns in France”, he said. “ I was in the heart of it and I never saw honest working people assaulted by the police, or fear the police. It was rather the opposite situation," he said.
"And honest people have had enough of being left to cope alone in these ares, where they are at the mercy of drug dealers and delinquents.”
“I cannot bear these people who use hardship, which I have experienced, to further their careers, when they know absolutely nothing about it.”
He argues that in France the problem is not with racism in the police but the failure of the education system. He wants more focus and investment in education, lamenting the fact that so many people in deprived areas leave school without qualifications.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an organised movement in the United States advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against African-American people.
An organisation known simply as Black Lives Matter exists as a decentralised network with about 16 chapters in the U.S and Canada.
In the summer of 2016, the Black Lives Matter movement in France also merged with the Black Lives Matter movement in connection with the Adama Traoré affair.