Tens of thousands of protesters marched across France to denounce a security bill that would restrict police filming and the posting of images on social media, which critics say would impact the ability to document cases of police brutality.
Protesters are also against the use of intensified surveillance tools such as drones and pedestrian cameras.
Thousands of people marched in Paris and cities across France on Saturday, with turnout estimates varying widely between authorities and activists. Police estimated the total turnout across the country at 34,000, while organizers insisted it was closer to 200,000.
In Paris, demonstrators came out despite a rare snowfall, carrying banners with slogans such as “Police everywhere, justice nowhere” and “State of emergency, police state”.
“It’s a strange dictatorship, one wonders how far they will go with this law,” said a walker from the northern city of Lille, who only identified himself by his first name, François. “If this is the case in the land of human rights and freedom, then I am ashamed to be French!”
Police arrested 75 people across the country, including 24 in Paris, Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin said, while 12 police and paramilitaries were injured in clashes.
Several incidents of “disproportionate” police responses fueled protesters’ anger, such as police actions when they broke up an illegal New Year’s rave in Brittany, which drew some 2,400 people.
Images of white police beating an unarmed black music producer in his Paris studio on November 21, 2020, also amplified anger at the legislation, condemned by many as signaling a shift to the right by President Emmanuel Macron.
Other recent incidents filmed include the violent demolition of a refugee camp on the iconic Place de la République by the Parisian police in November last year.