An old clip of French police officers clashing with demonstrators has resurfaced online in posts that misleadingly link it to the pension protest turmoil in France in 2023. The footage has actually circulated in reports about police clashing with French firefighters in the capital Paris in 2020 after they took to the streets to demand better working conditions.
“The world is going wild right now!” reads the caption to the 24-second clip which shows riot police officers hitting protesters with batons.
It was shared by David Oneeglio — an Australia-based social media user who has a history of posting misinformation — to his 61,000 subscribers on Telegram on March 30.
The clip has been viewed more than 10,000 times alongside the misleading claim.
“French cops Vs the fire fighters,” the caption adds.
The post circulated online as clashes erupted in France between protesters and police as tens of thousands took to the streets to show their anger against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform that has sparked a major domestic crisis.
Protests and strikes called by unions against the law — which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 — have turned into a major challenge to Macron who won a second term in elections last year and presents the biggest crisis of his second mandate.
The clip has also been shared more than 6,300 times in posts by social media users from Australia, the US, the UK, Germany and China.
The clip, however, has been taken from old footage of a demonstration in Paris.
It corresponds to the opening sequence of a longer video previously published on YouTube on January 28, 2020 by the French news organisation Horz-Zone Press.
Its caption says, “Charge of CRS against charge of FIREMEN on the sidelines of the firefighters’ demonstration in Paris – 28 Jan. 2020.”
The CRS is a special mobile French police force.
Horz-Zone Press also shared the footage on Twitter on the same day.
At the time, thousands of French firefighters took to the streets of Paris in a pyrotechnic protest to demand better working conditions, igniting flares and even setting their fireproof jackets alight.
There were clashes with security forces as some firefighters threw projectiles and police responded with tear gas, AFP reported.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the clip in the misleading posts (left) and its corresponding frame from the 2020 footage:
The location of the footage corresponds to this Google Street View imagery of a neighbourhood in Paris, as shown below:
French broadcaster BFMTV and newspaper 20 Minutes France reported that firefighters took part in the France pension protests in 2023.
But Eric Brocardi, spokesman for the National Federation of Fire Fighters of France, told AFP on March 31, 2023 there were no recent reports of violent clashes between firefighters and police officers.
The same clip was previously misrepresented as a protest against Covid-19 measures in Paris.