France braces for more protests against security law amid police violence | France


Dozens of rallies are scheduled for Saturday against a new French law that would restrict the sharing of images of police officers, just days after the country was rocked by images showing officers racially beating and abusing a black man.The case has shocked France with celebrities and politicians condemning the actions of the officers and brought the debate over President Emmanuel Macron’s law to its boiling point.

Last Friday, Macron called the incident an “unacceptable attack” and called on the government to come up with proposals to “fight discrimination”.

One of the most controversial elements of the new law is Article 24, which would criminalize the publication of images of police officers on duty with the aim of harming their “physical or psychological integrity”.

It was passed by the National Assembly last week – although it is awaiting Senate approval – sparking rallies and protests across France.

The organizers of the rally demand the withdrawal of the article, claiming that it is in contradiction with “the fundamental public freedoms of our Republic”.

“This bill aims to undermine the freedom of the press, the freedom to inform and be informed, the freedom of expression,” said one of the organizers of Saturday’s protest.

Unions are expected to join the protests, with members of the “yellow vests” – whose sometimes violent protests in 2018 and 2019 rocked the country – also expected.

The organizers of the rally demand the withdrawal of article 24, claiming that it contradicts “the fundamental public freedoms of our Republic” [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

In Paris, authorities had asked organizers to limit the gathering to one location, but on Friday evening, authorities authorized a march.

And in a sign that the government could prepare to back down, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday that he would appoint a commission to reformulate Article 24.

Under the section, offenders could be sentenced to up to one year in prison and fined 45,000 euros ($ 53,000) for sharing footage of police officers.

The government says this provision is meant to protect agents from doxxing and abuse online, but critics say it’s further evidence of the Macron administration’s slide to the right.

But media unions say it could give the green light to police to prevent journalists – and social media users – from documenting the abuse.

They bring up the case of music producer Michel Zecler, whose racial abuse and beatings at the hands of the police were recorded by CCTV and subsequently published online, sparking widespread criticism of the actions of the police.

In another case, journalists on the ground in a French migrant camp witnessed and recorded police brutality on Monday as the Paris region was cleared.

In a letter seen by the AFP news agency, Paris police chief Didier Lallement wrote to police officers ahead of Saturday’s demonstration that “in the coming days, the weeks to come … there is no doubt that you will be faced with to difficulties, doubts, even anger and fear ”.

But he insisted that he could “count on integrity, a sense of honor and ethics” among the force.

Demonstrations against police brutality have already taken place elsewhere in the country.

In the southern city of Toulouse, demonstrators took to the streets on Friday evening, waving signs with slogans such as “the police everywhere, justice nowhere”.

In western Nantes, police said around 3,500 people had gathered, while organizers estimated the crowd at 6,000-7,000.

France has been shaken by a series of protests [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here