A central French police laboratory has found that organised protesters targeted riot police with chemical agents after testing samples from a recent protest in Paris.
The samples were taken from the June 16th healthcare worker demonstration that saw black bloc Antifa militants violently attack members of the CRS riot police near Les Invalides in central Paris.
After examining riots shields that were used during the protests, the laboratory concluded that it was “highly probable” officers had been attacked with the chemical titanium tetrachloride, Le Parisien reports.
According to the newspaper, the small containers of the chemical were filled with the compound in liquid form. When broken, the chemical turns to titanium dioxide and releases hydrochloric acid.
“There is, therefore, a smoke effect, a strong irritant, and an incapacitating effect on the respiratory tract. There is also a burning sensation on contact with the skin,” experts told the newspaper.
An unnamed member of the riot police dismissed the idea that the violence against police was random, saying: “We were the target of organised groups, not simply demonstrators.”
Johann Cavallero, a union delegate for the CRS, said violence against police during demonstrations is getting worse and more violent. Mr Cavallero said: “The worst part is that at the same time, we no longer have the means to respond. Hence many are really fed up.”
Police arrested at least 24 people at the June 16th protest in Paris, which was initially meant to be an event for healthcare workers to express their demands for better working conditions. Patrick Pelloux, president of the Association of Emergency Physicians of France, expressed disgust at the behaviour of the Antifa rioters, saying: “We were robbed of this demonstration. It’s disgusting.”
Antifa militants have previously resorted to throwing rocks, bricks, or Molotov cocktails at officers during riots — but chemical attacks have been used on police in the past as well. In 2018, youths in Essonne attacked police by spraying acid at them during a riot on Halloween.
Several months later in the commune of Ygos-Saint-Saturnin, it was reported that members of the Fédération Nationale de Protection Civile (FNPC/French Civil Protection), a civil defence group, were also attacked with acid.