Protests erupted across Europe this weekend, as citizens push back against legislation implementing lockdowns and requiring vaccinations.
The story: Media coverage over the weekend showed tens of thousands of protestors in Paris, London, Dublin, Athens, and other European cities.
Demonstrations became particularly heated in Paris, as the city’s riot police fired tear gas into crowds near Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare railway station in response to protesters knocking over a motorbike being driven by two police officers.
The Interior Ministry of France estimates that 161,000 people participated in nationwide protests on Saturday, up from 114,000 protestors counted last weekend.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin indicated that police made nine arrests in Paris as a result of clashes with police. On Twitter, he expressed appreciation for the police force’s handling of the situation, stating, “Thank you to law enforcement for having monitored the protests today. I strongly condemn the violent behavior aimed at some police, gendarmes, and journalists.”
Protesters’ motives: Protesters had varying agendas, but it was clear that many came out in reaction to efforts by French legislators to pass a bill requiring patrons of gatherings over 50 people, such as sporting events, museums, and cinemas, to produce a “health pass” in order to enter.
France already has measures in place that require healthcare workers to produce a health pass, but efforts to extend this requirement to other large gatherings are being met with vehement criticism.
Worth noting: These measures come as health officials raise alarms at the drastic rise of coronavirus infections.
In a parliament debate in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran bolstered his position in favor of the new legislation by pointing to the 18,000 new infections reported in the last week. “We have an increase in the spread of virus of around 150% in the last week: we’ve never seen that,” Veran emphasized to parliament members.
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