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by Dave Gradijan

French Police Tear Gas Students to End Protest

Mar 13, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

On Saturday, French riot police ended a three-day sit-in at Paris’ Sorbonne university by using tear gas on protesters who were gathered to express their anger over recent government labor reforms, Reuters reports.

The students, who occupied the area since Wednesday, banded together to protest Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin’s plan to employ a flexible First Employment Contract, which allows employers to hire people under the age of 26 for a two-month trial period before deciding whether to add them on permanently, according to Reuters.

Critics of Villepin’s plan fear the contract would enable firms to more easily hire and fire young workers, without providing them with the appropriate protections and repercussions, Reuters reports.

French law enforcement officials rushed the Sorbonne early Saturday morning, escorting some 200 protesters out of the area and arresting 11 of them, according to Reuters.

Only two people were being treated for injuries, one of whom was a photographer who was hit with flying debris intended for police, Reuters reports.

Students had already blocked off the area immediately outside the Sorbonne, as well as the Boulevard St. Michel in the Latin Quarter, before police moved in and commenced the evacuation, according to Reuters.

A number of protesters said the police got carried away in escorting people away from the scene, Reuters reports.

Marianne, a 20-year-old theatre major who was at the scene, told Reuters, “Police showed violence which went beyond all limits. People were playing music and they just got attacked in the most incredible way.

“Half of us wanted to go out peacefully, the other half wanted to stay. So we had a vote and decided not to leave, but they came in and made us leave by force,” she said.

Gilles de Robien, education minister, told French radio that he thought the evacuation was warranted, and that he’d seen protesters destroying books and causing other damage around the area, according to Reuters.

“When I see young people, students or people who claim to be students, starting to destroy our national heritage, which has been built up over centuries, destroying old books, smashing objects, vandalizing the building, then I think it is right that the Sorbonne should be evacuated,” he said, according to Reuters.

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