PARIS: Scores of hooded anarchists launched projectiles at riot police, smashed up shop fronts, torched cars and burned barricades during a demonstration in the French capital on Saturday against police violence and a draft security law.
The police fired back volleys of tear gas and made repeated charges at groups of troublemakers for close to three hours. One group of anarchists ransacked the branch office of a bank, throwing piles of paperwork onto a fire outside.
It marked the second consecutive weekend of unrest in Paris, provoked by recent episodes of police brutality and President Emmanuel Macron`s security plans, which the demonstrators say would restrict civil liberties.
Rallies also took place in Marseille, Lyon, Lille and other French cities.
Thousands of people had begun marching peacefully in Paris, waving banners that read “France, land of police rights” and “Withdrawal of the security law”, when the clashes erupted between police and `Black Bloc` anarchists.
Paris police said that some 500 “casseurs” – which translates as hoodlums or rioters – had infiltrated the protest, according to BFM TV. Thirty arrests had been made by 1700 GMT, the force added.
France has been hit by a wave of street protests after the government introduced a security bill in parliament that set out to increase its surveillance tools and restrict rights on circulating images of police officers in the media and online.
The bill was part of French President Emmanuel Macron`s drive to get tougher on law and order ahead of elections in 2022. His government also said the police needed to be better protected from online hate.