France – Several thousand people gathered for the planned climate march on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference (Cop21) that begins in Paris on Monday. The march was banned in the days following the ‘Paris Attacks’ when a State of Emergency was declared that unauthorized all public gatherings.
In the lead up to today’s events, French police using the authority gained by the state of emergency declaration placed 24 known climate activists under house arrest. An act against personal freedoms that would have been illegal otherwise.
Skirting the ban on public gatherings, thousands of Parisians and activists from around the world joined hands to form a human chain along Boulevard Voltaire from Noon to 1 p.m. According to Agence France Presse, nearly 10,000 people took part in the human chain demonstration.
Following the human chain, many who participated then headed to join the gathering at Place de la République.
Despite the protest ban and pre-detention of activists some 4000 to 5000 citizens not so willing to give up their civil liberties had made it to the Place de la République which was entirely blocked off by an estimated 1500 police.
The gathering began to move along the avenue de la République when the police violence began. French police deployed concussion grenades, tear gas, pepper spray and repeatedly used baton charges on the citizens. Videos of the violent repression show people being clubbed, directly pepper-sprayed and some being violently detained.
It’s obvious that many people have injuries from the various forms of police violence, yet total figures are still unknown.
Currently, it has been reported that about 174 people have been detained and another 150 people are still being kettled (surrounded) by police at Place de la République where they have been held for hours.