PARIS (AFP) – Thousands of protesters took to the streets in France on Saturday for a third consecutive weekend of demonstrations over a controversial security bill that would limit filming of the police.
The authorities had been bracing for further possible violence after the last two such protests in Paris ended in rioting.
But there were no major flare-ups as several thousand protesters – the organisers claimed a turnout of 10,000 – flanked on all sides by riot police, marched through the city.
“Global repression, total regression,” read a placard held aloft by one demonstrator, a reference to the new “global security” bill which bans the “malevolent” publication of images showing the faces of police officers in action. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that 119 people were arrested in Paris.
Demonstrations were also held in Montpellier, Strasbourg, Lille, Toulouse and Marseille. Critics argue that the security bill, which has been adopted 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 up an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio on November 21 amplified anger over the legislation, widely seen as signalling a rightward lurch by President Emmanuel Macron. Other incidents caught on camera have shown police in Paris using violence to tear down a migrant camp.
In the face of mounting protests, Macron’s ruling LREM party announced it would rewrite the bill’s controversial Article 24, dealing with filming the police. But the announcement fell short of the mark for left-wing protesters and rights groups, who are demanding that the law be completely withdrawn.