Protests roiled France on Saturday as more than 133,000 people demonstrated against a security law that would restrict photographs of police officers from being published.
Critics say the law would make it more difficult for journalists and human rights advocates to hold police accountable, according to CNN, especially after a video was published showing police officers beating Michel Zecler, a black music producer, in what AFP called “racial abuse.”
France has faced something of a reckoning following the death of George Floyd in the United States. The country’s “longstanding failure to fully integrate Muslim and African populations from its form colonies” have been exacerbated by a predominantly white police force that targets African and Arab youths for abusive arrests and has a “long track record” of deaths of minorities in custody, according to the New York Times.
French authorities do not keep demographic statistics on the basis of race or religion, making it more difficult to prosecute systemic abuses or craft civil rights legislation like that which has been passed in the U.S.
French President Emmanuel Macron said images from the attack on Zecler “bring shame upon us” and called on his government to “quickly make proposals” to “fight more effectively against all forms of discrimination.”
The bill in question, the Global Security Bill, was approved by the National Assembly and will head to the Senate in December. Article 24, the bill’s most widely criticized section, bans the publication of images that could lead to the identification of law enforcement officers “with the intent to cause them harm, physically or mentally.” The bill also strengthens the government’s ability to surveil the public, according to Axios, authorizing both the use of drones to record people in public and police body cameras to be livestreamed to authorities.
Lawmakers have suggested that revisions could be made to the bill, and Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday that he would create an independent commission “to help redraft the disputed provision on the broadcasting of images of police officers.”
Reuters reported that the “majority of the thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully,” but as the evening went on, masked protesters shattered shop windows and lit vehicles on fire.
Police responded with tear gas and stun grenades and deployed a water cannon to disperse protesters around the Place de la Bastille. In total, nine arrests were made in Paris.
Tags: News, France, Paris, Emmanuel Macron, Police, Law, Journalists, Human Rights
Original Author: Tyler Van Dyke
Original Location: Demonstrators across France protest proposed security law