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Twelve arrested after clashes at Paris ‘Up All Night’ protest

Elliott Verdier, AFP | A protester throws a projectile at a burning police car on Place de la Republique in Paris on April 23, 2016.

Twelve people were arrested overnight during clashes between police and demonstrators around Place de la République, the Paris square where protesters have been holding nightly rallies for the past three weeks.


Riot police fired teargas to disperse a group of around 100 people who tried to break through police lines around the square in central Paris, police said in a statement on Saturday.

A police car was torched during the clashes, which erupted shortly after midnight, the statement said. No injuries were reported.

The clashes mark the latest flare-up on the sidelines of the largely peaceful "Nuit Debout" (Up All Night) gatherings, which began on March 31 in protest at the government's proposed labour reforms and have since grown to encompass a range of grievances, from the plight of migrants to tax evasion.

“Up All Night”, which has inspired similar gatherings in cities and towns across the country, has been likened to the 2011 Occupy camp on Wall Street and the anti-austerity Indignados movement in Spain.

Under its rules, anyone can demand the right to speak at the Place de la République. Decisions are made at a “general assembly”, where people vote or show approval by a simple show of hands.

But the string of incidents has cast a pall over the movement, undermining the spirit of unity and openness that was its defining feature.

Amateur footage of the overnight clashes posted on YouTube by 'Bibou vingtsix'

Police on Saturday spoke of "renewed, and worsening acts of violence" after the sit-ins, warning organisers not to let their peaceful cause be hijacked by troublemakers.

Last week, “Up All Night” drew negative attention after it emerged that a leading French academic, writer and philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, was forcibly ejected from the square after he showed up to listen to the night’s debates.

Finkielkraut, known as a strong supporter of Israel and an opponent of multiculturalism, was forced to leave the square under a hail of abuse from activists and chants of “fascist”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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