France’s protests sprawl over security bill

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A protest in the French capital took place after a court overturned a police ban. Arie Alimi, a lawyer representing a collective opposed to the law, called on Twitter for a march between Place de la République and Place de la Bastille, two central places known for their demonstrations.

The collective, called “Stop Loi Sécurité Globale” or Stop Global Security Law, is made up of journalists’ unions, human rights NGOs and other groups. They plead in favor of the withdrawal of articles 21 and 22 of the bill, “which organize mass surveillance”, and of article 24, which would penalize the “malicious” dissemination of the image of the police.

They also call for the abolition of the so-called “new national police system”, announced in September by the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, which forces journalists to disperse during demonstrations by order of the police, thus preventing them. to cover the continuation of demonstrations, often stormy in recent years.

More than 100 local elected officials in the Paris region announced their participation in the event via a public forum in the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.

The protests marked the end of a tense week which saw two major cases of police violence as the law was under review by the French lower house, the National Assembly.
The bill has been amended by the government, say lawmakers, to guarantee press freedom and will go to the Senate in December.

Police cleared a migrant camp in central Paris on Monday, brutalizing several journalists, including the “Brut” journalist Rémy Buisine. Images of the violence have gone viral on social media, prompting scrutiny of government plans to make these images illegal.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Darmanin, the French interior minister, was asked about the police response to the protests and about the video of a journalist who claimed that the police threatened him with arrest after showing his press card.

“The journalist did not approach the police before the demonstration – as some of his colleagues did – to be able to cover it,” Darmanin said.

Yet, nothing in French law obliges journalists to seek police authorization before covering a demonstration.

On Thursday evening, online media site Loopsider posted footage showing the beating of black music producer Michel Zecler in and outside his studio by several police officers.

The video has been viewed more than 13 million times on Twitter, with many public figures, including international footballers Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, denouncing police violence.

The Paris police headquarters said the internal investigative body of the French police had been tasked with investigating the incident. He added that he had asked the director general of the national police to suspend the police officers involved as a precaution. CNN was not able to immediately determine who represented the suspended officers.

President Emmanuel Macron denounced “images that make us ashamed”, while asking his government to “quickly make proposals” to “fight more effectively against all forms of discrimination”.

“If people cannot film anything in the streets when the police can sometimes use force illegally, it is a very worrying message to send,” Cécile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International France, told CNN.

“On the one hand, we ask citizens to accept the possibility of being filmed on the pretext that they have nothing to fear if they have done nothing wrong. And at the same time, the police refuse to be filmed, which is a right in any democracy in the world. ”

Macron has already made similar demands at least twice this year, in January following violent clashes between police and protesters over his government’s pension reform and in June, amid a global wave of protests. after the death of George Floyd in the United States.

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