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FRENCH police have been accused of brutality after shocking video footage emerged showing a woman in a medical uniform being dragged by her hair during protests by health workers in Paris yesterday.
Un policier met un coup de genou dans la tête d'un manifestant déjà maîtrisé par cinq robocops. #PoliceRepublicaine
— Cerveaux non disponibles (@CerveauxNon) June 17, 2020
Several officers in riot gear were seen dragging the 50-year-old away from the demonstration, repeatedly slamming her against a tree as she was pleading for help.
The nurse, seen with blood pouring from a head wound, begged for an inhaler, saying “I have asthma” as she was pulled up on to her feet and pulled by her hair as officers took her into custody.
Imen Mellaz, the woman’s daughter, explained that her mother Farida, a nurse, has been working “between 12 and 14 hours a day” for the past three months as French hospitals struggle to deal with the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The authorities confirmed that Farida had been taken into custody, accused of contempt, rebellion and violence for throwing missiles.
But Ms Mellaz slammed police for their actions, insisting that there was no justification for the way her mother was treated.
Health workers were set upon as they held a reportedly peaceful protest outside the health ministry. Police, who blamed “anarchists” for the violence, fired tear gas at protesters.
The workers were demanding a pay rise and increased funding for France’s creaking health system, which has endured massive cuts under President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal reforms.
The CGT union said that thousands of people, including nurses, care assistants and doctors, had joined at least 250 marches across the country.
Many said that despite having been “clapped” and lauded as heroes during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, they now felt abandoned and left behind.
Protesters carried banners reading “fewer slogans, more euros,” “more euros for the heroes” and “in homage to our Covid victims, never again.”
Others carried placards with the slogan: “suffocated hospital/ I can’t breathe,” a reference to the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe.
The heavy-handedness of French policing has long been an issue, with nearly 300 investigations opened into police violence last year during the yellow-vest anti-government protests.
The interior ministry admitted in May 2019 that 2,448 protesters had been injured during the demonstrations. It is believed that at least 24 people were blinded in an eye and 283 had sustained head injuries as police used rubber bullets and other weapons to disperse crowds.
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