Burned cars, ransacked street furniture and damaged windows: the demonstration against the Global Security law was punctuated by scenes of vandalism on Saturday in Paris, where the mobilization was down as in the rest of the country.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, 64 people had been arrested in France, according to Place Beauvau. The Paris prosecutor’s office has for its part reported 21 people in custody, including two minors, in Paris.
In the capital, the procession’s progress was slowed down by a series of incidents, acts of vandalism and other sporadic fires … The demonstration, which started at 2:15 p.m. from the Porte des Lilas, did not reach its point of arrival. Place de la République, only around 6 p.m., when most of the participants had already left the ranks.
Along the way, at least six cars and a truck parked along Avenue Gambetta in the 20th arrondissement were set on fire and several storefronts of banks and real estate agencies were damaged. Construction sites served as a supply base for various projectiles and sporadic fires were started here and there by groups dressed in black and very mobile. Finally, the evacuation of the Place de la République in the evening took place in a very tense atmosphere.
According to a police source, these individuals numbered 4 to 500, at the peak of the Parisian demonstration, of which they led the procession. In Paris, 42 people were arrested, said the Prefecture of Police shortly after 8 p.m.
“The thugs break the Republic”, reacted the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin at the end of the demonstration, reporting eight wounded among the police.
“Support for our police officers and our gendarmes, once again very violently taken to task,” he wrote on his Twitter account when the demonstration was about to be dispersed. “64 arrests (editor’s note: throughout France). Among the wounded, 8 police forces. Their courage and their honor command the respect of all.”
200 demonstrators in Brussels
Some two hundred people demonstrated at noon on Saturday at the Schuman roundabout in Brussels against the French comprehensive security law, currently under debate in France.
In the street for several causes
Initially planned as a union rally against precariousness, the day of Saturday sees the aggregation of the protest against police violence and the global security law, which has mobilized the defenders of freedoms for several weeks.
The text is accused by its detractors of undermining “the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression and the freedom to demonstrate”, and also of establishing “tools of mass surveillance”. The demonstrators also intend to denounce the police violence after two cases at the end of November which caused a shock wave in France: the beating of a black producer – for which 3 police officers were charged – and the brutal evacuation of a camp of migrants in Paris.
Last Saturday, the “marches” organized by the “coordination # StopLoiS SécuritéGlobale”, a collective of multiple unions and associations, including several organizations of journalists, strongly mobilized in the country: between 133,000 people, according to the Ministry of the Interior, and 500,000 according to the organizers. Faced with this anger, the government has so far announced only one concession: the rewriting of article 24, the most controversial, framing the image of the police.
The coordination demands its outright withdrawal, with articles 21 and 22 of the text, and challenges the “new national law enforcement plan (SNMO)” which limits media coverage of the demonstrations.
Accused of increasing the “liberticidal” measures, Emmanuel Macron wanted to speak directly to young people, very present during the last demonstrations, in an interview with the online media Brut on Friday. “I cannot let it be said that we are reducing freedoms in France,” said the president. “It’s a big lie. We are not Hungary or Turkey.” The Head of State advocated appeasement, denouncing both the violence of some police officers and those committed against the police.