Police arrest 70 at far-right protest in Lyon railway station
About 70 far-right activists were arrested on Saturday as they tried to hold a banned demonstration at the main railway station in the French city of Lyon. Some were carrying knives and iron bars, according to officials.
Some of those arrested may face more serious charges than participating in an unauthorised gathering, according to regional security official Jean-Pierre Cazenave-Lacrouts, who said that weapons were seized and that some could be charged with attacking police officers.
Nobody was hurt and there was no damage to property at the protest, he said.
They were defying a ban on a demonstration against alleged “anti-white racism” planned to be held in the city centre on Saturday. A bid to overturn the ban was thrown out by a court at midday. A counter-demonstration was also prohibited.
The right-wingers assembled in Lyon’s Part-Dieu station in the early afternoon as weekend passengers headed for their trains.
Oeuvre Française president Yvan Benedetti, who was expelled from Marine Le Pen’s Front National in 2010 for belonging to both parties at the same time, addressed his followers from a staircase, assuring them, “The French people are forbidden to speak up in their own country. Today it’s the foreigner who is making the law in our country.”
The demonstrators chanted “France for the French!”
Police used teargas when some of them tried to break through a cordon formed to force them out of the station and several arrests were made.
Other members of Jeunesses Nationalistes were arrested in the town after being found to have knives or smoke grenades in their bags, according to Cazenave-Lacrouts.
The founder of the youth movement, regional councillor Alexandre Gabriac, was not present at the station protest but had called on his followers to “remain ready for action”.