protest France
Protesters throughout France have shown up for rallies against a controversial draft law on public safety, under which filming a police officer on duty may result in a hefty fine. Critics say it fosters impunity for misconduct.

The protests were organized in many large French cities, including Paris, Marseilles, Lyon, Brest and Nice, with thousands participating despite Covid-19 concerns. The main event is happening in the Place de la République in the capital.

The demonstrators are voicing their anger over a draft law on public security, which was approved by the lower chamber of the parliament this week. Article 24 of the bill bans filming of police officers on duty with an intention to harm them. Lawmakers who voted for the bill are among the officials who were shamed by the protesters.

Comment: As you can see from the following picture, the protest was massive:

Number of demonstrators for the #MarcheDesLibertes in Paris :

- 46,000 according to the Prefecture of Police
- 200,000 according to the organizers.

Average: 123,000.

The reasoning behind the provision, which introduces a fine of €45,000 ($53,450) or even a one-year jail term, is that members of the force need to be protected from doxxing and online harassment. Critics say it curtails journalistic freedoms and would be used to intimidate people who want to expose police brutality and other forms of misconduct.

The protests were organized by unions, but they have many supporters. The Yellow Vests movement, which was sparked by growing social and economic inequality and for months remained a major problem for President Emmanuel Macron, is among them.

There is also a component of racism in why the proposed law sparked so much anger. Police abuse of people of color became more visible thanks to the spread of mobile phones with good cameras and social media.

One such incident, which was filmed on CCTV rather than a personal device, went viral this week after the footage was leaked online. It showed French police beat and racially abuse a black man, apparently for not wearing a face mask.

Police have also been slammed for their heavy-handed tactics in clearing a migrant camp in central Paris earlier this week.

Rally dispersed by police with tear gas in Nantes

A protest rally in Nantes, which saw crowds denouncing a proposed national security law, has been dispersed by French police. More protests against the controversial piece of legislation are scheduled for Saturday.

The rally was held in the western French city on Friday evening, providing a preview of multiple similar events scheduled for the weekend. Demonstrators carried banners with such messages as "Violence is the last refuge of incompetence" and they chanted pro-liberty and anti-police slogans.

The event initially remained peaceful, though there was a palpable anger among the protesters, according to local media. But later in the night clashes erupted, with riot police deploying tear gas against the demonstrators.

Nantes police said they managed to "limit the damage to the city" and estimated the attendance at up to 3,500. Organizers put the crowd at 6,000-7,000. The police reported making 17 arrests and said nine officers were injured during the clashes.

The national security law, which is yet to be approved by the French Senate, includes a highly debated provision that bans - under penalty of a five-figure fine - the sharing of photos or videos of police officers on duty with the goal of harming their "physical or psychological integrity."

The discontent against the bill was further fueled this week by the publication of a brutal video showing officers beating up and racially abusing music producer Michel Zecler. The CCTV footage was leaked online and sparked nationwide outrage.

Comment: Is it any wonder the police and their ponerized masters would want to criminalize recording the police? Brutal police beating of maskless French man hints at frightening future for locked-down Europe

Protests against the draft security law are expected on Saturday throughout France. Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday that he would appoint a commission to redraft the contested provision.