French police arrest 35 at protests against proposed security law
Paris, Jan 30 (efe-epa).- Thirty-five people were arrested Saturday amid sporadic clashes between police and some 33,000 people who took to the streets of this capital and other French cities to protest against a proposed new security law, authorities said.
All but seven of the arrests took place in Paris, where the number of protesters was just over 5,000, according to the Interior Ministry.
Two police officers received minor injuries.
The largest concentration of demonstrators in the capital was on the Place de la Republique, though members of the dissident Yellow Vests movement marched in other parts of the city as well.
The protests were called by France’s largest union of journalists, the SNJ, but flags and banners of other labor organizations, feminist groups and the leftist France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party were also to be seen among the crowds.
Altercations broke out about an hour before the start of the 6:00 pm curfew imposed as part of efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, when all but a few hundred protesters had already left the Place de la Republique.
Some demonstrators hurled objects at police, who resorted to water cannon and baton charges to disperse what remained of the crowd.
Authorities in Paris deployed around 2,500 police to monitor the protests.
Incidents also took place in the western city of Nantes amid continuing unhappiness over a new Global Security Law that was passed by the lower house of parliament last November and is due to be taken up by the Senate in March.
Article 24 of the legislation makes it a criminal offense to disseminate images of law enforcement officers that have the potential to expose them to harm.
People convicted under Article 24 would be subject to a year in prison and a fine of up to 45,000 euros ($54,600).
The lower house approved the bill just three days after the circulation of a video showing white cops pummeling an unarmed black music producer inside his Paris studio.
The government of President Emmanuel Macron – who has a 59 percent disapproval rating – has pledged to amend Article 24, but journalists, human rights activists and the political left remain suspicious of what they see as an attempt to censor reporting and create impunity for abusive police.
The SNJ said that “tens of thousands” of people turned out Saturday for 60 events in cities including Lyon, Montpellier, Toulouse, Lille, Marseille, Clermont-Ferrand, Toulon, Saint-Malo and Caen, among others. EFE