Violent clashes erupted in Paris on November 28 as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against new security legislation, with tensions intensified by the police beating and racial abuse of a black man that shocked France.
Several fires were started in Paris, sending acrid smoke into the air, as protesters vented their anger against the security law which would restrict the publication of police officers’ faces.
Some 46,000 people marched in Paris and 133,000 in total nationwide, the interior ministry said. Protest organisers said some 500,000 joined nationwide, including 200,000 in the capital.
President Emmanuel Macron said late on November 27 that the images of the beating of black music producer Michel Zecler by police officers in Paris “shame us”. The incident had magnified concerns about alleged systemic racism in the police force.
“Police everywhere, justice nowhere” and “police state” and “smile while you are beaten” were among the slogans brandished as protesters marched from Place de la Republique to the nearby Place de la Bastille.
Several cars, a newspaper kiosk and a brasserie were set on fire close to Place de la Bastille, police said.
Some protesters threw stones at the security forces who responded by firing tear gas and using water cannon, an AFP correspondent said.
Police complained that protesters impeded fire services from putting out the blazes and said nine people had been detained by the early evening.
France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin condemned “unacceptable” violence against the police, saying 37 members of the security forces had been injured nationwide.