Thousands Protest Plan to Curb Sharing Photos of French Police

Opponents say law would help officers who commit brutality avoid accountability
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 28, 2020 9:20 AM CST
Thousands Protest Plan to Curb Sharing Photos of French Police
Protesters hold brushes next to a poster reading "Blurring faces" on Saturday in Paris.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Thousands of opponents of a proposed security law that would restrict sharing images of police officers in France gathered across the country in protest Saturday, while Paris officers were advised to behave responsibly during the demonstrations in the wake of footage showing police using violence becoming public. Dozens of rallies were held against a provision of the law that would make it a crime to publish photos or video of on-duty police officers with the intent of harming their "physical or psychological integrity." Civil liberties groups and journalists are concerned that the measure will stymie press freedoms and allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished. In Paris, the AP reports, several thousand people packed the sprawling Republique plaza and surrounding streets carrying red union flags, French tricolor flags and homemade signs denouncing police violence, demanding media freedom or calling for Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin's resignation.

The crowd included journalists, left-wing activists, migrants rights groups, and citizens of varied political stripes expressing anger over what they perceive as a hardening police tactics in recent years, especially since France's yellow vest protest movement against economic hardship in 2018. Many protesters, police, and journalists have been injured during demonstrations in recent years. "There were all those protests in the summer against police violence, and this law shows the government didn’t hear us. ... It’s the impunity. That’s what makes us so angry," said protester Kenza Berkane, 26. Berkane, who is French and of North African origin, described being repeatedly stopped by police for identity checks in the metro or while going to school while white friends were allowed to pass. "We ask ourselves, when will this stop?" The cause gained renewed attention after footage emerged of police officers beating up a Black man, triggering a nationwide outcry.

(More France stories.)

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