Thousands march for third weekend in France to protest bill that would limit police filming, Europe News & Top Stories


PARIS (AFP) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in France on Saturday December 12 for a third consecutive weekend of protests over a controversial security bill that would limit police filming.

Authorities were bracing for possible further violence after the last two such protests in Paris ended in riots.

In the capital, several thousand demonstrators flanked on all sides by a huge deployment of riot police marched through the east of the city.

“Global repression, total regression,” read a sign held in the air by a protester, a reference to the new “global security” bill which prohibits the “malicious” publication of images showing the faces of police officers in action.

Tensions mounted after dark, with police using water cannons to push back small groups of black-clad protesters who threw bottles and other projectiles at security forces.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that 81 people had been arrested in Paris by mid-afternoon and said the police were facing “ultra-violent individuals”.

Demonstrations also took place in Montpellier, Lyon and Lille.

Critics argue that the security bill, which was passed by the lower house of parliament, will make it harder for journalists and citizens to document cases of police brutality.

Footage of white police beating an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio on November 21 has amplified anger over the legislation, widely seen as signaling a right turn by President Emmanuel Macron.

Other filmed incidents showed Parisian police using violence to demolish a migrant camp.

In the face of mounting protests, Macron’s ruling LREM party announced it would rewrite the controversial article 24 of the bill, dealing with the police shooting.

But the announcement fell short of left-wing protesters and rights groups, who are calling for the law to be completely withdrawn.

In scenes reminiscent of the anti-government “yellow vests” protests of late 2018 and early 2019, shop windows were smashed and vehicles set on fire in Paris last week as small groups of protesters clashed with police.

‘Fuzzy cop’

Police said on Saturday they had arrested several anarchist “black bloc” protesters amid the crowds in an attempt to prevent them from taking over.

Protester in Montpellier, doctor Anne-Marie Briand, 49, declared that she considered her “duty as a citizen to ensure respect for our rights”.

A protester throws an object during a demonstration in Paris on December 12, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

Briand carried a banner that read “a fuzzy cop is a dubious cop” – a reference to the security law requirement that the faces of police officers on duty be blurred in pictures and videos.

The recurring allegations of police brutality have become a major headache for Macron.

In a letter to a police union leader on Monday, he announced plans for a summit in January on how to improve relations between police and communities.

“Urgent action is needed,” Macron said in the letter to the Unite-SGP-FO police union, adding that the summit would also deal with long-standing police complaints about working conditions.


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