Tens of thousands protest in France against controversial police law


The crowd included journalists, journalism students, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France's yellow vest protest movement against economic hardship emerged in 2018. Footage also showed barricades, building materials and several cars and motorcycles on fire.

French police have fired tear gas and protesters have thrown fireworks during demonstrations against a bill that would make it a criminal offence to film or take photos of police with "malevolent intent".

The officers, who have been suspended from duty, were being held at the National Police Inspectorate General (IGPN), and prosecutors opened an investigation into violence by a person in authority and false testimony, the source said.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that images of the beating of music producer Michel Zecler in Paris last weekend "shame us".

Zecler told reporters Thursday he was walking around nearby without a facial mask, which was against the country's COVID-19 safety measures, and hid in his studio to avoid fines when a police vehicle appeared.

"This bill aims to undermine the freedom of the press, the freedom to inform and be informed, the freedom of expression", one of Saturday's protest organisers said.

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The incidents come amid controversy over a new French security law, particularly an article that would make it a crime to publish images of officers with intent to cause them harm.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government would look into redrafting the disputed Article 24 of the proposed law.

But he was forced into a U-turn even on this proposal after parliament speaker Richard Ferrand - a close Macron ally - accused the premier of trying to usurp the role of parliament. Meanwhile, the government justified the provision as a way to protect policemen from threats and violence.

The government says the provision is meant to protect officers from doxxing and online abuse, but critics say it is further evidence of the Macron administration's slide to the right.

The issue has also pressured the high-flying Darmanin - who was promoted to the job this summer despite being targeted by a rape probe - with Le Monde saying tensions were growing between him and the Elysee.

An internal letter from Paris Police Prefect Didier Lallement called on officers to use "probity, the sense of honour and ethics" when policing the protests, which were authorized by authorities. Taking to Twitter, he condemned what he said was "unacceptable violence against law enforcement". The police force has insisted violations are the fault of isolated individuals.