Tens of thousands protest in France against controversial police law

Masked protesters launched fireworks at police lines, put up barricades and threw stones, causing clashes

More than 130,000 people joined demonstrations across France on Saturday against police brutality and a controversial new security law. Protests took place in cities across France including Paris, Strasbourg, Marseille and Lyon.

The journalists’ organisations and civil liberty groups who organised the marches were joined by far-left militants, environmental activists and yellow vest protesters. The yellow vests have been protesting against government policies for two years.

The majority of the thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully, but isolated riots broke out in Paris, with small groups of masked protesters dressed in black smashing shop windows and setting two cars, a motorcycle and a cafe on fire. The fires were put out quickly.

Once again in Paris, where 46,000 people marched, police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds in the Breton city of Rennes and in early evening water cannon sprayed remaining groups of protesters on Place de la Bastille.

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said a total of 37 police officers and gendarmes were injured in the protests across France. Taking to Twitter, he condemned what he said was "unacceptable violence against law enforcement."

Paris police meanwhile said that nine people had been arrested.

The protests come as France reels from two high-profile incidents of police brutality. On Monday, police officers aggressively evacuated a migrant camp, and on Thursday a video emerged of officers beating a black music producer. The video emerged against the backdrop of proposed legislation that would limit people's right to take video recordings of police officers. Many also see the freedom of the press at risk because of the planned law. 

The government says a new security law should better protect the police and restrict video recordings of police operations.  The measure has been reviewed in the lower house and is before the Senate.

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