Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of French cities for the second weekend in a row to protest against health passes and mandatory vaccination for medics. In Paris, rallies ended up in scuffles with police.
Law enforcement officers in the French capital used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds as the situation on the streets spiraled out of control during the massive demonstrations provoked by the government’s plans to extend health passes for public places and enforce mandatory vaccination for certain jobs, including health workers.
Unreal numbers on the streets of Paris, let’s see if the mainstream media call it “couple of hundred” . pic.twitter.com/avokmVmSkS
🚨🇫🇷 ALERTE – De plus en plus de #manifestants arrivent à envahir les #ChampsElysees à #Paris contre le #PassSanitaire. Les forces de l’ordre ne sont pas assez nombreux. (@Thms_rnn) #AntiPassSanitaire#manif24juillet#manifs24juilletpic.twitter.com/FCxWEEwhrz
Videos published on social media showed a crowd of angry young people forcing police officers to retreat from the Champs-Elysees by blocking the road, pelting officers with various objects and even attacking police vans. Law enforcement responded by deploying water cannon to disperse the crowd.
Le canon à eau est utilisé sur les #ChampsElysees. Plusieurs centaines de manifestants #AntiPassSanitaire bloquent la circulation. Tensions en cours. #manif24juillethttps://t.co/XcUJ2iT3rUpic.twitter.com/nrV4SeILnZ
Elsewhere in Paris, a tense standoff between officers in riot gear and demonstrators ended up in a brief but fierce scuffle that prompted the police to use tear gas. In another incident, a crowd attacked a police motorbike by pelting it with bottles, forcing law enforcement officers to intervene.
Tension now rising in Paris at the demonstration against the PassSanitaire. Protesters try to force a cordon of the mobile gendarmerie. pic.twitter.com/KL2axS3OqL
Tensions on the rise in Paris, France between the police and protesters against the Macron government domestic vaccine pass. pic.twitter.com/uLEVsslAUV
Thousands of people took to the streets of the French capital to join at least three major rallies. One of them, attended by people wearing yellow vests – a sign of another major anti-government movement – was organized near the Place de la Bastille.
Another one – organized by the Eurosceptic ‘Patriots’ party – was organized at Trocadero, just across the river from the Eiffel Tower. Another group of protesters planned their march through central Paris.
Tensions en cours. Projectiles et gaz lacrymogène. Une partie du cortège sort de l’itinéraire pour partir en cortège sauvage. Les gendarmes semblent en sous nombre pour gérer les manifestants. #AntiPassSanitairehttps://t.co/vhFhgyk6TOpic.twitter.com/nHSf8Xhdr9
At least nine people were detained in Paris following the clashes, according to the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Massive rallies were also held in other French cities such as Marseille. In the city of Lille, 2,000 protesters took to the streets while demonstrations in Strasbourg were joined by 4,000 people. Most of the rallies were peaceful but Paris was not the only city to see some violent actions.
In the western city of Poitiers, a group of protesters stormed a local town hall. A video published on social media showed some of them allegedly throwing a portrait of President Emmanuel Macron as well as some documents out of the town-hall window as crowds cheer.
⚡️Protesters storm the town hall in Poitier, France, during an ANTI-COVID restrictions protest.One reportedly throws a picture of president Emmanuel Macron and other documents from a window to the cheering crowd below. (Via RT) pic.twitter.com/qRNWrIclgu
A total of 161,000 people took part in 168 protest actions across France, Le Parisien reported, citing the interior ministry’s data. Some 11,000 demonstrated in Paris alone.
ENORME SUCCÈS 👏 Manifestation géante place du #Trocadéro à #Paris passez le Bonjour à BFMTV et ses soeurs SVP.#PassDeLaHonte#24Juilletpic.twitter.com/XXJper060w
The protests that gripped the French capital and other cities throughout the country for the second weekend in a row were sparked by the government’s decision to extend a special certificate requirement for people visiting various public areas as well as to prolong a compulsory vaccination mandate for certain jobs, including medics.
Earlier this week, the authorities announced that a special certificate, proving that a person is either vaccinated or has recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months or has a recent negative Covid-19 test, would be required to enter museums, cinemas or swimming pools.
The ‘pass sanitaire,’ which is being introduced gradually, will also be required from the start of August to enter restaurants and bars and for long-distance train and plane journeys. Previously, the pass had only been required for people attending large-scale festivals or clubbing.
Over the weekend French lawmakers are expected to vote on the extension. On Saturday, the issue was debated in the state Senate.
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