Protesters storm Paris streets to denounce police brutality, tear gas fired

Protesters are blocked by riot police officers during a demonstration today in Paris. (AP pic)

PARIS: Thousands protested in Paris on Saturday to denounce police violence and President Emmanuel Macron’s security policy plans which the demonstrators say would crimp civil liberties.

In one incident, police fired tear gas and charged after fireworks were launched at their lines. Hooded youths smashed one store window. There were violent clashes between protesters and police in a similar protest last week.

In a U-turn earlier this week, Macron’s ruling party said it would rewrite part of a draft security bill that would curb rights to circulate images of police officers after it provoked a strong backlash among the public and the political left.

The protesters marched through the French capital under the close watch of riot police, waving banners that read “France, land of police rights” and “Withdrawal of the security law”.

“We’re heading towards an increasingly significant limitation of freedoms. There is no justification,” said Paris resident Karine Shebabo

Another protester, Xavier Molenat, said: “France has this habit of curbing freedoms while preaching their importance to others”.

The beating of a black man, music producer Michel Zecler, by several police officers in late November intensified public anger. That incident came to light after closed-circuit television and mobile phone footage circulated online.

Critics had said the original bill would make it harder to hold the police to account in a country where some rights groups allege systemic racism inside law enforcement agencies. Many opponents of the draft law say it goes too far even as rewritten.