Women demand peace amid police violence
Hundreds of female gilets jaunes marched to champion the power of peaceful protest this weekend, amid news of continuing police violence, and a professional boxer accused of assaulting a police officer.
In Paris, 300 to 500 women marched through the streets, singing French national anthem La Marseillaise as they sat on the steps of l’Opéra Bastille, surrounding the square and stopping traffic until mid-afternoon.
Similar movements were seen in Marseille, Toulouse, and Caen.
Karen, a nurse from Marseille, told the Agence France-Presse: “In doing this first women’s gilets jaunes march, we want to offer another channel of communication other than violence, because the only thing emerging in the media about this movement is violence. We are forgetting the root of the problem.”
Another protester, Chloé Tessier, said: “The government wants to portray us as vandals, but today we are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, of all citizens. And we want to say: our anger is justified. Women’s rights are most in danger during social crises.”
Juliette, from Rennes, added: “I am very aware of the question of police violence. I spent a night in police custody [on December 8] for no reason, in quite an abusive way.”
The women’s march comes as violence - both of the police, and of protesters themselves - continues to dominate the gilets jaunes coverage.
In Toulon (Var) this weekend, a woman named Séverine Charpentier lodged an official complaint after being allegedly struck on the head in anger by a police officer during a protest.
She suffered cuts, bruising and whiplash, and will need to be in a neck brace for ten days as a result, according to her medical certificate from January 5.
Ms Charpentier said that she recognised the officer who hit her as a man known as “Didier A.”, who had already been filmed hitting two other people at the same protest. The man denies her allegation.
The woman and her friends, also at the scene, said they were not taking part in the protest and only became involved after questioning a police officer who was allegedly acting violently towards a male gilet jaune.
She said: “I saw four or five police officers questioning a young gilet jaune who said he hadn’t done anything. I found the action so violent, that I approached and asked them to leave him alone. The policeman than approached me and, in a threatening way, told me to leave....he then got angry.”
The Var prosecutor has confirmed that an inquiry has been opened into police violence in Toulon.
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