France riots: Tear gas fired at protestors as anger mounts at Macron’s ‘police state’ law

Crowds of people gathered in Lyon this evening, with some carrying placards that said: “No to the police state”. Dramatic footage on social media also showed the streets filling up with thick smoke as flares and tear gas were thrown. People were seen wearing dark clothing and masks on their faces as they swarm the roads and streets. 

A witness tweeted: “Police use tear gas to #Lyon where several thousand people are united against the #LoiSecuriteGlobale.”

The riots were over Mr Macron’s new general security bill, which approved by French MPs today. 

The new bill would mean it would become a crime for people to share pictures of police officers without blurring their faces.

Publishing images on social media with the aim to undermine a police officer’s “physical or psychological integrity” could also result in a year’s prison sentence or a fine of up to €45,000.

But since this legislation was proposed last month, there have been protests against it in cities across France, including Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille.

Human rights organisations have also criticised the proposed bill as it could limit press freedoms and undermine potential abuses of power by the police being held to account.

There have also been complaints that the bill’s wording is too vague.

Ahead of the debate today, Amnesty France said in a statement on their website: “If such a law were to enter into force as it stands, it would constitute a serious violation of the right to information, to respect for private life, and to freedom of peaceful assembly, three conditions which are nevertheless essential to the right to freedom of expression.

“This could contribute to a culture of impunity which ultimately damages the image of the police and contributes to undermining the necessary bond of trust between the police and the population.”

The French parliament rejected a similar bill earlier this year.

But French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has since said it was necessary to “protect those who protect us”.

His words came following reports that police officers were seeing an increase in being targeted and threatened.

Some demonstrators in Paris last week said they thought the real purpose of the bill was to stop the media from exposing police brutality. 

But Gérald Darmanin, Mr Macron’s interior minister, said this was not true.

He wrote on Twitter that “a journalist or a citizen who films a police operation can of course continue to do so.

“But those who accompany their images with a call for violence while giving out the names and addresses of our police officers will no longer be able to do that”. 

Scrutiny of French policehas increased recently after a number of incidents were filmed and shared to social media.

One incident included the death of Paris delivery driver, Cédric Chouviat, a 42-year-old father of five, in January.

Ms Chouviat was heard saying “I’m suffocating” as seven police officers held him down in footage that went quickly viral.

Three police officers were charged with manslaughter in July in connection with his death.


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