Several hurt as French police break up mass rave

Eleven police officers were injured in the early hours of Saturday morning in western France, as they broke up a 1,500-strong illegal rave, authorities said, with one party-goer losing a hand in the clashes.

Several hurt as French police break up mass rave
Police break up an illegal rave in France. Photo: LOIC VENANCE / AFP

Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd, who defied an 11pm coronavirus curfew on Friday June 18th and just stayed on into Saturday afternoon in the area around a racecourse near Redon in Brittany.

There were “very violent clashes” when 400 police intervened, prefect Emmanuel Berthier said, adding the violence lasted more than seven hours through the night.

“The rave party at Redon has ended,” he announced after police had cleared the area.

Police detained five men and opened an inquiry into violence against people in positions of public authority.

According to the authorities, 11 police officers were injured, two of whom were taken to hospital. Two of the ravers were also hurt, including a 22-year-old man who lost a hand.

Berthier said the “people had an objective, to confront the forces of public order”.

Firebombs, metal balls, breeze blocks

Berthier told AFP that the group threw “Molotov cocktails, metal balls and bits of breeze blocks”.

A police officer said it was not usual for people to bring the metal balls used in the French sport of boules or petanque to a rave.

Event organisers said police had chosen violence instead of dialogue by firing tear gas grenades.

“It was war,” said Flo, a 22-year-old man who attended the event. “There hasn’t been any music since last night,” but “people taking part in the illegal rave are still on the scene,” the prefect’s office had told AFP early Saturday.

Local authorities had on Friday banned the party, which came two days before the coronavirus curfew is set to be lifted on Sunday, June 20th as Covid-19 case numbers fall in France.

The rave had originally been set up in memory of a young man killed in nearby city Nantes two years ago during the annual nationwide Fête de la Musique celebration.

Prosecutors said Friday that Steve Maia Canico fell into the Loire river when police moved in to break up the gathering.

His body was found more than a month later and protesters in Nantes have demanded “Justice for Steve”, saying the police intervention was disproportionate.

Hundreds of people flouted France’s coronavirus curfew with underground parties near Dijon and a village in western Brittany, while police managed to prevent organisers from staging a major rave in Paris.

READ ALSO: Mini concerts in bars and no curfew: What’s changed for France’s Fête de la Musique this year?

Member comments

  1. A rather over the top response to a few miscreants that were looking for trouble. In a situation like this, diplomacy is often the best policy especially when dealing with the young hyped up ravers.

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New Covid wave in autumn ‘virtually certain’ say French experts

The head of the government's new health advisory body says that a surge of Covid cases when the French head back to work after the summer break is virtually certain.

New Covid wave in autumn 'virtually certain' say French experts

Immunologist Brigitte Autran, president of new government health advisory body the Comité de veille et d’anticipation des risques sanitaires (Committee to monitor and anticipate health risks) which has replaced the Conseil scientifique, told Le Parisien that “the Covid epidemic is not behind us” and said that the French would have to get used to “living with” the virus.

The Covidtracker website currently shows that the virus is in decline across France, with the R-rate currently at 0.7 – any figure lower than one indicates that the number of infections is falling.

Autran, whose appointment as head of the new body was confirmed on Wednesday, said that the most likely scenario was for a “new epidemic peak in the autumn”, when people return to work after the summer holidays.

“Will it be due to a new variant or the return of cold weather?” she said. “We are not soothsayers, but it is almost certain that there will be a wave.”

“Today, we must go towards living with it,” she added, reintroducing the French to an expression previously used by President Emmanuel Macron and several ministers.

“This does not mean accepting the deaths or the severity of the disease,” she went on, pointing to the fact that health authorities in France still have “levers to activate” to fight the virus. 

Despite the fact that nearly 80 percent (79.6 percent) of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated against the virus, she said that, “unfortunately there are still too many people who have not been vaccinated or revaccinated.”

And she said the new body would work with the government to improve the public’s access to drugs, such as Paxlovid, and vaccines.

Vaccination is still open to anyone who has not yet had their shots, while a second booster shot is on offer to certain groups including over 60s, pregnant women, those with health conditions or people who are in close contact with vulnerable people.

EXPLAINED Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster shot in France?

The French government in August voted to end to State of Emergency that allowed it to impose measures like travel bans and lockdowns, although further restrictions could be put in place if cases rise again and parliament agrees.