French police fired tear gas at protesters rallying in Paris against a bill that would make it a criminal offence to film or take photos of police with malevolent intent.
About 46,000 people gathered in central parts of the capital, according to the interior ministry. The majority marched peacefully but small groups clashed with police.
Clashes began after some in the crowd threw stones and fireworks at police. Cars and a newspaper kiosk were set on fire and dozens were arrested.
The authorities said 46 arrests were made and more than 20 police were injured.
On Saturday, demonstrations were also being held in Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, Nantes and other cities across France.
Charge des forces de l’ordre sur la place de la #Bastille. Un individu à terre est interpellé.#MarcheDesLibertes #marchesdeslibertes #LoiSecuriteGlobale #28novembre #Paris #manifestation pic.twitter.com/OVlLDdWYvY
— Yazid Bouziar (@ybouziar) November 28, 2020
— Lucas Léger (@lucas_rtfrance) November 28, 2020
The proposed bill was backed last week by the lower house of parliament, and is now awaiting senate approval.
The legislature makes sharing images of on-duty police “with the aim of harming their physical or psychological integrity” punishable with up to a year in prison and a maximum USD$ 53,360 fine.
Other proposed measures include allowing police to use camera-equipped drones and easier access to CCTV footage.
Opponents to the draft law say the measure would infringe journalists’ freedom to report, while supporters say police officers and their families need protection from harassment, both online and in person when off duty.
Opponents say the bill undermines press freedom to document police brutality. But the government says it will help protect officers from online abuse.
French police have been taken to task in recent years for alleged brutality meted out to protesters and criminal suspects, especially those from Black, Arab or other minorities.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has also made an extraordinary intervention to critique the bill and called for French politicians to not support it.