13 Dec, 2018
French police put lives at risk during Yellow Vest protests, RT heard. A friend of a woman who lost her eye at a rally says police was targeting bystanders deliberately, while a reporter claims her helmet was confiscated.
A 20-year-old student, identified as Fiorina, came to Paris for a “Yellow Vest” rally last weekend, Maxime Jacob, the woman’s friend, told RT France. “I was around when we were at Champs Elysees. At around 12am we asked gendarmes to let us leave the place but they were ordered not to allow anyone out.”
At some point, violent rioters attacked a store nearby, setting protective shutters on fire. Suddenly, riot police began dispersing the crowd so that fire brigades could make it to the site. “We were on the left, very far away [from there],” Jacob explained, saying he and Fiorina were pushed back to a police barricade.
But, he claims, police fired shots on both sides regardless of where the arsonists were. “And then, during another attack, an anti-riot grenade exploded several meters away from me,” he recalled. “Seconds later, Fiorina was hit and she fell to the ground.”
Jacob believes his friend wasn’t hit accidentally.
There were multiple shots and they deliberately fired towards civilians.
According to French media, the projectile that injured Fiorina’s eye could have been fired from a Flash-Ball, a non-lethal weapon developed by a French firm as an alternative to other, more intrusive tools like rubber bullets or batons. The Flash-Ball can use a range of ammunition, but a soft 44mm rubber ball is the most common one.
A paramedic provided first aid but was unable to perform on-site surgery. Fiorina was taken to a nearby hospital but even professional ophthalmologists couldn’t help.
— -₽ – 🅣 – 🅐 – (@PorteTonAme) December 8, 2018
Jacob said that while he doesn’t oppose the use of force to restore order, there are “no justifications to an attack on people… who are just looking on and have no protective gear, no gas masks.”
— RT (@RT_com) December 1, 2018
The issue of protective equipment came to light earlier in December when a French photographer claimed riot police compromised her safety during Paris rallies. While covering the protests, Veronique de Viguerie engaged in an argument with officers who said she should keep away from the area.
“They told me: ‘Look, there’re projectiles flying all over the place, you should be mad not having a helmet. Be a professional, it’s not safe here, come back with your helmet on’,” de Viguerie told RT France. Covering the rallies next time, she brought a helmet and a gas mask but the equipment was confiscated at a police checkpoint.
“Some officers played cowboys, it seems, they didn’t follow an order and did put photographers at risk by confiscating their protecting gear.” She claimed many reporters were injured by Flash-Balls during skirmishes between police and protesters.
Two RT reporters, Peter Oliver and Lucas Leger, were injured in the middle of the unrest. Oliver was hit by a rubber bullet while Leger was wounded by a projectile in his face.