French city bans anti-police brutality demonstration

Demonstrators and riot police clash in Rennes on 28 April
Demonstrators and riot police clash in Rennes on 28 April AFP/Damien Meyer

A demonstration against police brutality was banned in the western French city of Rennes on Saturday afternoon and officials warned people to avoid the city centre, following violence on Friday evening. The Breton capital has been the scene of protests against the government's labour reform and a young demonstrator lost an eye during clashes with police last month.


"We won't let them demonstrate, this demonstration will not take place," interim prefect Patrick Dallernes said on Saturday. "We will enforce respect for the law, we will enforce respect for the rule of law."

With about 700 people expected to defy the ban, nearly 500 police were mobilised, along with water cannons and helicopters.

Dallernes advised the public to steer clear of the city centre during the afternoon.

On Friday evening between 150 and 300 people attacked banks, clothes shops and a police station with iron bars in apparent retaliation for the forced evacuation of a council-owned building that had been occupied by Up All Night protesters.

Police intervened when they tried to attack the city hall.

Dallernes said that they were slow to act because they had not been given sufficient resources and had been outmanoeuvred by "urban guerrilla tactics" of small groups attacking different targets in a short space of time.

The dark and the destruction of a number of surveillance cameras rendered the authorities "blind for part of the town", he added.

Protester lost eye

Rennes has been the scene of a number of demonstrations against the government's labour reform over the last two months.

Some of them have seen clashes between police and protesters and a young man lost an eye to a projectile on 28 April.

An inquiry is under the way to establish of the projectile was fired by police.

Two police unions have called for demonstrations against "anti-cop hatred" on 18 May, following clashes on anti-labour reform marches, but some have accused the authorities of deliberately allowing violence to take place in order to discredit the protests.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning