Authorities are investigating 288 cases of police violence towards Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protesters, according to statements from the Inspectorate General of the National Police (IPGN).
The incidents under investigation date all the way back to the beginning of the Yellow Vest movement in November 2018, with the director of the Inspectorate General of the National Police Brigitte Jullien stating that the majority have already been handed to prosecutors, Le Figaro reports.
“We have 288 cases since the beginning of the mobilisation, 142 of which have already been returned to the prosecutor. To this, we must add about 150 administrative inquiries that are going to be, or have been, opened,” Jullien said.
Jullien also advised against using the term “police violence”, saying: “In fact, the investigations are open because of a presumption of illegitimate use of force, because third parties — and they have every right to do so — have complained to denounce what they considered to be disproportionate.”
Since the beginning of the Yellow Vest movement, the issue of violence directed at protesters by police has been debated as more and more protesters have suffered injuries, some of them life-changing.
Many have criticised the use of flash-ball rounds by riot police during the weekly demonstrations which have been blamed for some of the worst injuries including lost eyes and hands.
In January of this year, doctors claimed that the injuries sustained during the protests were unprecedented with emergency room physician Dr Christophe Prudhomme stating: “I have been working in this sector since the 1980s and this is the first time I have seen so many serious injuries during a social movement.”
In March, French President Emmanuel Macron defended police actions during the protests and dismissed the victims of police violence, saying they were people who attacked police and caused general havoc.
“As such, the best way to avoid these uses and these cases is to avoid having people who consider that a Saturday afternoon is for smashing windows, institutions, or attacking the police force,” he said.