The protest against the newly proposed global security law has started taking an ugly turn with protesters turning violent. Nearly 150 protesters have been arrested by police so far.
The protest, called Stop Loi Sécurité Globale or stop global security law, is against Article 21 and 22, which grants the right to the government and the police to monitor and record people using body cams and drone cameras, as well as against Article 24 that prevents the public from capturing the police activities.
The placards carried by the protesters in Paris read “I will never stop filming” and “Camera equals mutilation?”
Tweeting about the arrests, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said “several hundred thugs had come to commit violence”.
Calling the intent of the bill vague, critics said it “will stigmatise Muslims”. Many fear the bill would make it hard to prove police brutality and that journalists would be unable to do their jobs of covering police-related incidents.
The Macron government in its defense said the new laws does not intend to stop freedom of speech or impose restriction on press reporting but “is aimed at protecting police officers and their families from online trolling and harassment when off duty”.
The protests against the law were organised after two incidents related to police brutality came into light in recent weeks. On November 23, the police were seen clearing a temporary migrants’ camp in central Paris using brutal measures, in which many, including several reporters, were injured.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, while expressing shock at the incident, had called it “unacceptable” and accused the police of using “brutal and disproportionate use of force”.
The second incident was on November 26. In a footage that went viral, the police can be seen beating black music producer Michel Zecler repeatedly. The footage was denounced by President Emmanuel Macron, who said it “brings shame upon us”.
Cecile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International France, earlier told CNN: “If people cannot film anything in the streets when the police may sometimes have an illegal use of force, it’s a very worrying message to send.”
These weekly demonstrations against the government can be seen as a setback for President Macron, who is seeking re-election in 2022.