MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) — Protesters clashed with police in the French cities of Nantes and Toulouse on Saturday during mostly peaceful demonstrations called in honor of an activist killed last Sunday, AFP reports.
“This is a young man who was killed by the police, by the state, and we cannot let this go,” one demonstrator said, as quoted by the news agency.
Riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse rioters, who hurled street signs and tear gas canisters at the officers. 21 protesters in Nantes and 13 in Toulouse were detained. Both activists and police officers have been injured in the clashes.
“These are groups who have come in search of violent altercations with the police,” Henri-Michel Comet, prefet of the Midi-Pyrenees Region, said, as quoted by Reuters.
Remi Fraisse, 21, an environmental activist, was killed when a peaceful protest turned violent near a construction site of the Sivens dam in the town of Lisle-sur Tarn. The autopsy showed he died of a wound to his back caused by an explosion. Authorities said that a stun grenade, which, protesters insist was hurled by the police, might have killed Fraisse. However, official results of the investigation into the activist’s death have not been made public yet.
Additional protests were staged in Lille, Bordeaux, and Avignon. Several demonstrations were held in Fraisse’s memory this past week in Nantes, Paris, Brest, Lyon and Marseille, according to BBC.
The Sivens dam is a controversial project aimed at creating an artificial water basin for irrigation. Supporters insist it will promote the local economy by providing irrigation to a region often hit by droughts in the summer. Opponents claim the dam will ruin the local environment and biodiversity, while being beneficial only to a few farmers. Following Fraisse’s death and weeklong demonstrations, the project was postponed on Friday. It would be “impossible” in light of the tragedy to “continue work on the site,” said Thierry Carcenac, head of the region’s executive council.
Local authorities did not however say the Sivens dam project has been scrapped. Next week Ségolène Royal, French minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, will hold a meeting on the future of the project with all parties involved.