Police violence in France as protests over security bill continue

Polices lashes out on demonstrators after a protest for the total withdrawal of the Global Security law, Paris, Jan. 30, 2021. (Reuters Photo)

Fresh demonstrations were held in French cities and towns against the controversial proposed security law on Saturday, with police clashing with the protesters while trying to disperse the crowd.

In Paris, tensions were visible among the security forces as protesters rallied in large numbers.

The police later used water cannons, tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd assembled at the Place de la Republique, after some protesters threw projectiles.

Similar tensions took place in the rally at Nantes, where four police officers were injured and one protester was arrested, the national police reported.

Saturday’s “freedom march” rallies were joined by the yellow vest movement, journalists unions, artists and musicians against the government’s closure of all places of culture, exchange and critical thinking, favoring shopping malls over theaters, universities, concert halls and cinemas, the organizers said in a statement.

The demonstrations have continued since November when the National Assembly approved the draft legislation that poses potential threats to the right to privacy, freedom of expression, press freedom and right to demonstrate. It is scheduled to be examined by the Senate in March.

In December, President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party agreed to rewrite Article 24 of the law that would criminalize the dissemination of images and videos of police officers on social media, amid fears that it might enable impunity among police and gendarmerie.