News Desk World

Sun 29 November 2020:

On Saturday “The March of Freedoms” saw thousands decry police brutality and a new global security bill that favors protecting police above freedom of expression.

Hundreds of black-clad protesters clashed with police at the end of a demonstration against police violence in Paris on Saturday after masked protesters launched fireworks at police lines, put up barricades and threw stones.

The majority of the thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully, but small groups of masked protesters dressed in black smashed shop windows and set two cars, a motorcycle and a cafe on fire. The fires were put out quickly.

Banners and signs were held by some proclaiming defiant messages against police: “Not see, not caught”, “Carrying weapons is out of service”, “France: Country of Rights of the Police” and “Police everywhere, justice nowhere.”


Probably the most pronounced sign of all: The word “Liberte” written in black on a white background encircled by a red noose.

Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds and in early evening water cannon sprayed remaining groups of protesters on Place de la Bastille.

Police were present throughout the day yet brigades streamed in as the crowd grew more turbulent, to jeers and “boos” from demonstrators. Firefighters were on hand to douse blazes that give rise to smoke, visible for one mile. A palpable smell of gas lingered at certain points. A reported 37 police were wounded during demonstrations.

The interior ministry said it had counted 46,000 protesters in Paris. Police said they had made nine arrests.

Thousands of people also marched in Lille, Rennes, Strasbourg and other cities.

The protests follow the publication this week of CCTV footage of the minutes-long beating of Black music producer Michel Zecler by three police officers in Paris on Nov. 21.

The incident has also fanned anger about a draft law that is seen as curbing the right of journalists to report on police brutality.

The bill would make it a crime to circulate images of police officers in certain circumstances, which opponents say would limit press freedom.

The march was banned by officials Thursday, given the presence of the coronavirus with police calling for only a rally. An administrative court, however, overturned that decision late Friday to allow the protest to proceed.

Elected officials, as well as members of the Yellow Vest movement, were in attendance, along with labor unions and human rights organizations such as the Society of the Rights of Man and Amnesty International.

“Our liberty is in danger, we are really happy to see all of these people here today,” said Manon, a student who marched with her friend, Clara. “It shows that Parisians are a people in pursuit of their liberty.”

Regarding new legislation making its way through parliament, her words were straightforward.

“It’s unbelievable to be in 2020 and we have this type of law right now.”

Asked what should be done, Clara said suspensions should take place. “This institution is racist, homophobic and sexist.”

Like the Black Lives Matter protests before it, demonstrations Saturday sent a strong message to law enforcement and the government that people’s rights at the hands of the police cannot be eclipsed.

The protest comes after the National Assembly adopted a comprehensive security bill Tuesday. The controversial portion, Article 24, prohibits taking photos of police in the line of duty and disseminating those images online and in the media. Violators can face a year-long prison sentence and a €45,000 ($53,800) fine. The bill goes to the Senate in January for examination

Journalists, news organizations and human rights groups denounced the bill as an attack on freedom of expression, which was made all the more pronounced in a week that saw two extreme cases of police brutality.




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