French protests: the urgent need to ban use of maiming 'crowd control' weapons


France’s ‘yellow vest’ protestors were back on the streets this weekend, as their movement calling for better living standards for low- and middle-income earners held its tenth nationwide day of action. While some demonstrations have been marred by violence from extremist groups, there is mounting criticism of aggressive police tactics. These notably include the widespread and often indiscriminate use of rubber bullets and stun grenades that have caused, according to several estimations, around 100 serious and life-changing injuries to protestors and bystanders. Mediapart co-editor Carine Fouteau argues here why these highly dangerous weapons, which France is one of very few countries to deploy in such situations, should be immediately banned from crowd-control policing.

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There have been hands ripped off, faces broken, joints deformed in a devastating toll that is moving from dozens into hundreds. After nine uninterrupted weeks of the so-called ‘yellow vest’ (gilet jaune) movement, the immoderate use by police of weapons that wreak serious injuries (guns that fire rubber rounds such as Flash-Balls and the so-called ‘defence ball launchers’, or LBDs, and explosive stun grenades) have left many demonstrators and others caught in the mayhem with shocking wounds, sometimes life-changing.