A video live-streamed during the Yellow Vest protests on March 16 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris shows a police officer putting football jerseys in his bag shortly after the Paris Saint-Germain club shop was looted. It is unclear from the footage whether the officer was collecting evidence, as the police later said, or was taking them for more dubious reasons, as social media users allege. An investigation into the incident has been opened, according to CheckNews, the fact-checking team of the French daily Libération.
On March 16, France's Yellow Vests organised protests across the country for the 18th consecutive Saturday with violence breaking out on Paris's iconic Champs-Élysées, where several stores and newsstands were looted, including the official store of the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football team.
In the days since the protests, a segment of a video originally live-streamed by Rémy Buisine, a journalist for the French news site Brut, has gone viral, garnering more than three million views. The footage shows an officer a few metres from the PSG shop entrance carefully folding what looks like club jerseys or white sweatshirts and putting them into a black bag.
Buisine is heard commenting that "some items were…" before being brusquely interrupted. As the camera shakes, Buisine says that he was clubbed by a police officer with a baton, although that isn’t clearly shown in the video.
Twitter user @LPLdirect writes: "A member of #CRS [the French riot police] was filmedby @RemyBuisine (#Brut) filling his bag with #PSG t-shirts, right next to the PSG shop. The journalist was violently accosted by one of [the police officer’s colleagues], who tried to take his phone. #Acte18 #GiletsJaunes"
A few minutes earlier in the video, a policeman is seen holding red and grey clothing in the same area.
In tweets and posts shared thousands of times, some social media users accuse the police officer of stealing the clothes while his colleague allegedly tried to cover for him by clubbing Buisine.
The police union in the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, told CheckNews that the officer in question was “collecting evidence of the looting that could later be used in court”.
Twitter user @leGneral2 wrote: "THIEF! #GiletsJaunes #Paris #acte18: Unbelievable scene of police looting PSG jerseys + journalist @RemyBuisine assaulted! DISGRACEFUL! Share/denounce this thief please"
It is unclear from the footage whether this was a case of theft or the officer was merely following procedure. On March 17, the police announced that the IGPN, the body responsible for overseeing the police, had opened an investigation into the incident.
This story was written by Pierre Hamdi.