Socialist Worker

Police ramp up repression as tens of thousands join protests in France

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2734

Hundreds of thousands have joined protests across France

Hundreds of thousands have joined protests across France (Pic: Reporterre)


Around 100,000 people joined 90 demonstrations across France on Saturday against the government’s repressive global security law.

In many places there were also separate marches against unemployment and for precarious workers’ rights.

In Marseille the march against the new law merged with a protest demanding justice for Zineb Redouane, killed two years ago by a police tear gas grenade.

It also linked up with a demonstration by undocumented migrants.

In Toulouse there were four protests over the new laws and unemployment, although they all remained separate.

The turnout against the global security law was smaller than the previous week. President Emmanuel Macron has tried to blunt resistance by promising a review before it is passed.

It seeks to create a new criminal offence of publishing images of police officers “with the aim of damaging their physical or psychological integrity”.This would include images of police acting violently against protesters such as the Yellow Vests and anti-racist demonstrators.

Hundreds of thousands take to streets against security law in France
Hundreds of thousands take to streets against security law in France
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Restrictions

Offenders would face a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a £40,000 fine.

Cops would also be free to use drones with facial recognition technology to monitor protest marches. And there are harsh restrictions on journalists.

Macron might change details of the law, but he isn’t going to back off completely. As well as giving the appearance of concessions, the authorities met Saturday’s demonstrations with bans on protest and a huge police presence.

The regional council prohibited a protest in Montpellier—although over 1,000 people demonstrated anyway. There were also restrictions in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon and Rennes.

Over 6,000 police and gendarmes surrounded the Paris demonstration and attacked parts of it with tear gas. In Bordeaux police used water cannons.

Police also assaulted protesters in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Rennes.

Repression 

Macron is caught between trying to appear sympathetic to some protesters and ramping up repression.

He took questions from two hours this week on Brut, a news video site aimed at young people. He admitted, “There are police who are violent, but there are also people who are violent”.

He also said, “Today, when the colour of our skin isn’t white, we are more often stopped and checked by police which is unacceptable.”

This enraged the police “unions” who threatened to stop arresting and checking people’s papers.

But it persuades nobody who looks at Macron’s record of using the police against protests of all types. He has also failed to investigate multiple murders by police, particularly of black people.

The true face of the government is shown by its rampant Islamophobia.

Last week interior minister Gerald Darmanin—who does anti-refugee deals with British home secretary Priti Patel—launched fresh attacks. He tweeted “the state services will launch massive and unprecedented action against separatism"—a code word for Islam.

He is targeting 76 Muslim places of worship which will be controlled and monitored. And 18 mosques may be closed.

Darmanin is playing the hard cop while Macron seeks to look more reasonable.

The movements on the streets need to unite—and also combat Islamophobia.


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