Group Uses Obama Look-Alike to Highlight Allegations of Racial Profiling

January 12, 2009 - 4:43 PM
French Black Group Turns to Obama 'Double'

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's lookalike Michael Lamar, from San Francisco, Calif., center, and President of the Representative Council of Black Associations in France (CRAN), Patrick Lozes, right, listen to French Socialist lawmaker Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, partly seen at left, at the French National Assembly in Paris, Monday, Jan. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Yoan Valat)

Paris (AP) - A French black group is parading a Barack Obama-lookalike at the lower house of parliament and in Paris in a campaign to highlight its concerns about alleged racial profiling by police in France.
 
After a stout "Yes We Can!," American actor Michael Lamar met lawmakers at the National Assembly for Monday's start of a media blitz by the Representative Council of Black Associations.
 
For years, the group, known by the French acronym CRAN, has raised questions about a country that has championed a colorblind standard that sees all citizens as just French, regardless of ethnic origins - and where collecting racial data is banned.
 
The group wants a meeting with Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to discuss a survey it commissioned last year that showed "visible minorities" say they get stopped by police more often by police than other people.
 
Playing along after meeting Lamar, Green party lawmaker Yves Cochet said: "The presence at our side of 'Mr. Obama' is the sign that France should become as generous and egalitarian as the United States can be."
 
Lamar, a San Francisco native who now lives in Philadelphia, was being taken - dressed neatly in suit and tie - to a police station and other parts of the capital, and CRAN was filming the reactions of passers-by for an upcoming publicity spot, the group said.
 
The videos were also planned "to prompt dialogue on these issues that expose the backwardness of our country and its decision-makers when public opinion is concerned," it said.
 
Interior Ministry spokesman Gerard Gachet said French police do not stop people based on ethnic or racial backgrounds, and it would be "unthinkable" that such a policy could ever be put in place.