How does a fake police scam in Paris work?

We walked to the Eiffel Tower yesterday evening.

At the edge of the park surrounding the Tower, a scene was playing out. A Black man was on the ground, in George Floyd position, while two white guys were handcuffing and generally abusing him. He was pleading for mercy in French. From what I could infer, the noble Black man had been apprehended by these two white cops in the act of attempting to steal a mobile phone from a tourist who looked to be in her 60s. A moment of reflection sufficed to realize that the cops and robber had to be confederates. Since when have the French police actually arrested a pickpocket, much less thrown him/her/zir/them to the ground? The white guys were not in uniform. A younger American man began to shout (in English, of course!) his demand that they show their badges. I’m not sure if he was a confederate or a victim. We edged away, but I don’t think that any badges were shown.

The question for today… how were the three actors planning to profit from this sidewalk theater?

(London seems to be a lot more orderly as well as less plagued by trash on the sidewalks!)

4 thoughts on “How does a fake police scam in Paris work?

  1. @philg: Perhaps the two white guys were undercover police. I’m unsure whether France would require them to show their IDs, etc. I’m just glad a bomb didn’t go off somewhere else close by – or that you were not mugged shortly thereafter while gazing upon it. In situations like that, where nobody is identifiable or showing any credentials, my first approximation is to think: “This is a distraction being staged to draw attention from something else that’s about to happen.”

    What would Paris be, after all, without its own distinct brand of street theater? Did any uniformed cops from the Paris préfecture de police ever show up?

    That’s a very nice photo of the Eiffel Tower. I read that they are shutting the lights off at night as a symbol of solidarity with the people who are all being asked to conserve energy. Why don’t they just build a few new nuclear power plants?

  2. Many years ago I was waiting for the train station of Calais to open. One man was being rambunctious, but nothing violent. Two French police officers, arrived. One grabbed the guy by the scruff of the neck, and dragged him round a corner, out of view. We heard some screaming. The cop returned alone, and walked away, twirling a night stick. All was quiet after that.

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