The protests, at numerous sites across the country, took on added significance as they took place within hours of President Emmanuel Macron’s statement. footage showing Paris police attacking a black man was “unacceptable” and “shameful”.
Saturday’s protests were scheduled before the footage was released, but Sky’s Michelle Clifford said the video has gone viral in France and fueled the scale of the protests.
She said: “Very angry scenes in the streets. There are flash bomb grenades thrown. A lot of people are extremely angry with the bill and what they are going to say is another example of what they will call police brutality. ”
On Saturday night, Clifford said police in Paris were “reacting very vigorously” against protesters and “many buildings were on fire.”
“More and more tear gas is spreading,” she said at the scene.
Footage showed police charging at protesters, with a man being dragged by officers while on the ground.
More photos have been posted on social media showing police beating protesters as a migrant camp in the capital was dismantled this week.
Protesters set furniture on fire and clashed with police as they tried to block access to some roads.
In Lille, Rennes, Strasbourg and other cities, thousands more took to the streets.
People have taken part in dozens of rallies against legislation that would make it a crime to post photos or videos of a policeman on duty with the intent to harm his “physical or psychological integrity”.
Civil liberties groups and journalists have responded with fears that the measures will prevent police brutality from unfolding.
In Paris, several thousand people gathered at Place de la République, many carrying placards denouncing police violence and calling for the resignation of Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Tear gas was fired after masked protesters launched fireworks and threw stones.
Some in the crowd, who were concerned about the impact the laws might have, had personal experience of what they saw as unacceptable treatment from the police.
Kenza Berkane, who is French and of North African descent, said she was stopped by police in the metro when white friends were allowed to continue.
“It’s impunity that makes us angry,” said the 26-year-old. “We wonder when is this going to end? ”
This follows the opening of an investigation into the violent arrest of Michel Zecler, a music producer who claims to have been the victim of racist abuse by police officers on Saturday.
The incident was captured on CCTV and moving footage, and was broadcast widely.
Under the new law, it is possible that some of those who filmed or reposted the incidents found themselves in difficulty.