Paris erupted into chaotic scenes on Saturday as black bloc Antifa protesters assaulted police officers, vandalised storefronts, and set fires throughout the city.
The French Ministry of the Interior said that approximately 52,350 took to the streets of France to protest against the “global security” law, over a provision that could criminalise sharing footage of police officers online.
Some 5,000 demonstrators marched in Paris, with police saying that there were between “400 and 500 radical elements”, including “yellow vests” and “anti-fascist” activists, embedded within the protest. The Associated Press and local media identified violent infiltrators as “black blocs”.
The Antifa militants vandalised businesses, burned cars, and attacked police with projectiles. The left-wing agitators could be heard chanting, “Everyone hates the police” and the standard French Antifa battle cry: “Anti anti anticapitalistes.”
Les policiers sont attaqués à coups de marteau. Comme d’habitude l’extrême gauche peut tout se permettre, son impunité médiatique et judiciaire est totale. pic.twitter.com/avkpbiSreI
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) December 5, 2020
Justine Sagot, a journalist for the French broadcaster La Chaîne Info (LCI) — who was on-site at the protest — reported that one bank was particularly targeted by the far-left radicals, saying: “Hooded individuals broke the windows of the bank, took documents that were inside and burned them just in front of the building.”
“We have witnessed scenes of urban guerrilla warfare,” Sagot added.
The head of the Unité SGP Police Force Ouvrière union, Bruno Bartocetti, said: “This is urban violence, not a demonstration.”
The French minister of the interior, Gérald Darmanin, revealed that there were 64 arrests in total, with at least eight officers injured.
“The thugs are breaking the Republic,” he wrote on social media, offering his support for French police and gendarmes, saying: “Their courage and their honour command the respect of all.”
— Remy Buisine (@RemyBuisine) December 5, 2020
Following mass protests and riots last weekend, the government announced that it would re-write the controversial “Article 24” of the global security law, which would have made it illegal to publish video footage or the identities of police officers in France.
The protest movement has demanded that the government withdraw the section entirely, arguing that the law would place illiberal limits on the press as well as protecting acts of police brutality.
On Monday, four police officers were charged after video footage went viral on social media of police beating a black French music producer.
French President Macron said that the incident “shames us” and that the actions of the officers were “unacceptable”.
However, he went on to say on Friday that the term “police violence” has become weaponised by the “extreme left” in the country, arguing that “it has become a slogan for people who have a political agenda”.
WATCH: Parts of Paris in Flames as Protests Erupt Against Security Bill https://t.co/kM51lT7mGy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 29, 2020
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