Tens of thousands participated in nationwide protests across France on Saturday to demonstrate against police violence. The protests were organized in response to the killing of a teenager by a police officer during a traffic check three months ago, which had sparked riots across the country. In Paris, clashes broke out on the margins of the rally, with demonstrators of all ages holding placards denouncing state violence and demanding justice.
The protests specifically targeted article 435-1 of the Internal Security Code, introduced in 2017, which grants authorities greater leeway to use firearms when a suspect refuses to comply. Unions estimated that around 80,000 people participated in the protests nationwide, including 15,000 in Paris. However, the Interior Ministry reported lower numbers, stating that approximately 31,300 people protested across the country, with 9,000 in Paris.
During the march in Paris, a group of hooded individuals wearing black broke away from the main demonstration and engaged in acts of violence. They attacked a bank branch, smashed its windows, and targeted a police car stuck in traffic. The car was reportedly attacked with a crowbar, leading anti-riot officers to intervene. The government condemned the violence, describing it as unacceptable.
Among the protesters in the city of Lille was Mohamed Leknoun, whose brother Amine was killed in August 2022 after refusing to obey police orders. Mohamed expressed his frustration with the lack of progress in the investigation, as the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting had been indicted but no further updates had been provided.
The clashes and acts of violence on the margins of the protests highlight the ongoing tensions surrounding police violence in France. The demonstrations aim to draw attention to the issue and demand accountability for cases of excessive force.