Video footage of muscular police action with tear gas against climate activists has led to indignant reactions in France. The public prosecutor’s office in Paris started a preliminary investigation today because of the alleged deliberate violence. Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner asked the police commissioner of Paris for an explanation.
Supporters of the environmental organization Extinction Rebellion had occupied a bridge in Paris on Friday in protest. Video footage shows the security forces shooting tear gas right in the face while sitting peacefully on the ground.
“We are a completely nonviolent movement,” says a spokesperson in a video recorded during the action. Police measures are radical and disproportionate, it sounded. She herself got tear gas right in the face.
“Bridge had to be cleared”
The French Environment Minister François de Rugy defended the police action. The security forces had asked the demonstrators with loudspeakers to clear from the bridge, he said on the BFMtv channel. Because they refused, tear gas was used, according to the environment minister.
It was criticized from different angles. The socialist leader Olivier Faure spoke of “a scandal”. “Watch this video and wonder: who is defending who here?”, Climate activist Greta Thunberg wrote on Twitter.
The French actress and climate activist Marion Cotillard responded on Instagram. “Dear French government, can you explain these images to me?” She noted that Friday was the hottest day ever in France. A temperature of 45.9 degrees was recorded in the south of the country.