On Bastille Square in Paris, protesters set fire to a newspaper kiosk, the entrance to a building belonging to the French Central Bank and a neighboring brasserie. Several cars also burned in the area. Police arrested 46 demonstrators in Paris and the region.
In Paris alone, according to the Interior Ministry, around 46,000 people took part in a protest march from Republic Square to Bastille Square in the city center.
133,000 people took to the streets in a hundred other cities such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Rennes, Lille, Nantes and Montpellier.
France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has condemned the riots. The attacks on police officers at rallies in Paris and other cities were “unacceptable,” wrote Darmanin on Saturday evening in the online service Twitter. 37 officers were injured, 23 of them in Paris.
A photographer who works for the AFP news agency, among other things, was also injured during a police operation in Paris along with several demonstrators, an AFP journalist reported. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized the police for the “unacceptable” violence. The photographer was injured in the face with a baton, said RSF General Secretary Christophe Deloire on Twitter.
It was triggered by a video released this week showing a black man being beaten up by three police officers for minutes on November 21.
The incident also brought to the fore a bill to prohibit the distribution of pictures of police officers in certain situations.
This is seen as an interference with the freedom of the press. Protesters held placards that read “Who will protect us from the police?” Or “Stop police violence”.
According to the government, the security law should better protect the police and restrict video recordings of police operations.
An article of the law provides for the publication of pictures of security officers on duty to be made a criminal offense, if this is done with the aim of injuring the physical or mental integrity of the police officers. A prison sentence of one year or a fine of 45,000 euros could therefore be the consequence.
Only this week two brutal police operations had become known through videos: on Monday of an aggressive clearing of tents by migrants, on Thursday of an assault on a black music producer.
Many also see the freedom of the press at risk because of the planned law. After the lower house approved the project on Tuesday, the Senate now has to deal with the controversial law.
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