Healthcare marches in France spark clashes but also support
Healthcare workers across France protested against a lack of hospital funding yesterday, prompting violence in some places; but heartwarming scenes in others, as some police supported the protesters.
Healthcare workers were called by several unions to march yesterday (Tuesday June 16), to demand better funding for hospitals and healthcare, and a rise in pay.
Union CGT said that there had been thousands present across 250 marches nationwide. These included nurses, care assistants, care home workers doctors, and at-home carers.
Many said that despite having been “clapped” and lauded as heroes during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, they already feel abandoned and left behind.
In Paris, several thousand marched in front of the health ministry on Avenue de Ségur. Some violence erupted, during what police said was an otherwise “peaceful protests by carers”, with 32 people arrested.
Most of the violence appeared to come from a “pre-march” of people ahead of the main protest, who were “aggressive towards law enforcement” and damaged vehicles and buildings.
These elements did not have the support of healthcare workers. Patrick Pelloux, president of emergency doctor group l'Association des Médecins Urgentistes Hospitaliers de France said that the violent individuals were “just hooligans; ultra-violent idiots”.
Some violence erupted in Nantes, where around a thousand people marched peacefully in front of the CHU hospital. Some violent groups attempted to disrupt the protest, police said.
On its Twitter account, the Police Nationale de Loire-Atlantique said that the clashes had been perpetrated by “hostile individuals” and that “a violent group threw projectiles at the law enforcement officers”.
There were also marches of between several hundred to several thousand people in Bordeaux, Bayonne, Mont-de-Marsan, Périgueux and Guéret (Nouvelle-Aquitaine); Toulouse (Occitanie); Marseille, Avignon (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur); Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Metz, Epinal (Grand Est); Grenoble, Chambéry, Clermont-Ferrand (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes); Nantes, Saint-Nazaire, Laval, Mans (Pays de la Loire); Dijon (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté); and Orléans and Châteauroux (Centre-Val-de-Loire).
Les soignants demandent plus que des applaudissements à 20h. Belle mobilisation à Toulouse des personnels de santé et de leurs soutiens. Par contre pas de présence de @jlmoudenc dans le cortège ni d'aucun candidats @AimerToulouse. Pourtant c'est un sujet fédérateur. pic.twitter.com/W57NWSHKl1— Jean-Marc Barès-Crescence (@bares_crescence) June 16, 2020
Protesters carried banners with messages such as: “Fewer slogans, more euros”; “More euros for the heroes” and “In homage to our Covid victims, never again”.
Some carried banners reading “Hôpital asphyxié (suffocated hospital) / I can’t breathe”, in reference to the Black Lives Matter movement protests that have been taking place around the world in recent weeks.
Others had banners against the “Ségur” healthcare debates currently taking place on the issue of the health service organisation and workers’ salaries.
(Photo: Twitter / @KartMaxJ)
In Nîmes and Lille, there were heartwarming scenes as police tasked with controlling the march themselves began to applaud the protesters.
A video filmed by a police officer present in Nîmes showed CRS officers taking off their helmets, placing them on the ground, and beginning to applaud the healthcare workers.
The workers then did the same back to the police, with chants of “Tous ensemble! Tous ensemble! (All together! All together!)”. Sirens were also played to show support as more protesters gathered, and some workers laid down their white jackets in front of the police in solidarity.
Une manif pacifiste SANS #Antifas de merde pour taper sur la #Police ou sur les #soignants; voici comment cela doit se passer partout. Mais c’est sans compter sur la débilité de certains courageux masqués et équipes pour s’en prendre gratuitement aux #FDO. #Nîmes #manif16Juin pic.twitter.com/WRWnatDxGa— Nina DELTA (@Ninalouloute) June 16, 2020
Similar scenes were filmed in Lille, where police had been ordered to secure the surroundings of the town’s Place de la République.
Police applauded as protesters walked past.
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