Some 3,000 people in Nantes joined Saturday’s nationwide protest action against the draft security policy bill introduced by President Emmanuel Macron’s government. The rally mostly went off peacefully, but things started rapidly heating up as evening drew in.
As the rally spilled over into clashes between the demonstrators and police, protesters pelted officers with various projectiles while law enforcement responded with tear gas. The standoff ended up with two riot police officers being injured.
One of them was hit by a Molotov cocktail, according to the Loire-Atlantique prefecture. Both officers were evacuated by an emergency medical service. At least 13 people were arrested following the riots, according to the local authorities.
Over 90 protests against the security bill were held across France on Saturday. Paris saw particularly severe clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement, as groups of protesters smashed windows, burned cars and set barricades on fire.The scuffles ended up in some 30 arrests, according to various reports.
The country has been hit by a wave of protests over legislation introduced by the government and recently approved by the lower house of the French parliament in November. It provides additional surveillance tools to law enforcement and prohibits filming on-duty officers, as well as sharing their images online with the “intent to harm.”
In particular, the ban on filming police has sparked public anger and the French government responded by pledging to “rewrite” the relevant article earlier this week. Critics say the bill, if adopted, could make police less accountable for any brutality in their actions. They also argue that the latest government concession is not enough.
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