Gay marriage: Paris; protest turns violent during the night

Organizers, we are 1 million. Police and journalists targeted

27 May, 11:05

    Thousands of protesters gathers at the Invalides to demonstrate against the already passed law on same sex marriage in Paris Thousands of protesters gathers at the Invalides to demonstrate against the already passed law on same sex marriage in Paris

    (by Tullio Giannotti) (ANSAmed) - PARIS - The latest protest in Paris last night against the legalization of gay marriage and adoption in France turned violent. After police broke up the protest - which saw one million demonstrators take to the streets according to organizers and 150,000 according to police - hundreds of 'casseurs' started hurling bottles, stones and crush barriers against police and reporters, accusing them of "backing the Socialist regime".

    Protesters who took to the streets on Sunday were many, much closer to the million people declared by organizers than the 150.000 stated by police. Compared to previous demonstrations against same-sex marriage and adoption, demonstrators were less than on March 24 - 300.000 against 1,4 million - but more than on April 21 - 45.000 against 270.000.

    The protest kicked off with three parades across Paris which all ended at Place des Invalides and a few hundred people who gathered in a separate demonstration organized by conservative Catholic organization Civitas. Security was tight with 4.500 police officers deployed to prevent violence as on previous occasions. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls had just announced that police had arrested 96 people after detaining dozens at an impromptu anti-gay event on Saturday night at the Champs-Elysee, when the demonstration Sunday degenerated. As the last protesters were marching and singing 'Je ne regrette rien' by Edith Piaf, a group of violent protesters whom Valls described as 'right-wing extremists' took action. Police officials were surrounded by the protesters who started throwing beer bottles, stones and barriers and targeting journalists as well. Police gave reporters helmets and shields to protect themselves.

    The most popular slogans chanted by the violent protesters were 'Socialist dictatorship', 'Hollande step down' and 'journalists collaborationists' as the group took action after a day during which the only moment of tension was registered when a group of far-right extremists stormed early in the afternoon the headquarters of the Socialist party. The militants placed a large banner reading 'Hollande resign' on a terrace before being forced to leave.

    Organizers with 'Manif pour tous' succeeded in attracting large crowds but were unable with their spokeswoman Frigide Barjot to control the different groups of activists. Barjot in the end did not join the march saying she felt 'threatened' and while protesters took to the streets of Paris, she announced that 'Manif pour Tous' would fold and that 'the withdrawal of the law isn't possible anymore so the time for demonstrations is over and it's better this way as things are degenerating'.

    The event's leader replacing Barjot was Ludovine de la Rochere, president of 'Manif pour tous' who told demonstrators instead that 'I am announcing, even to those who still think we will give in, that we will continue this battle everywhere in France'. The final violence however seems to signal the end of protests against a measure which has become French law. The next appointment now is Wednesday in Montpellier for the first same-sex marriage in France.(ANSAmed).

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