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Riot Police Teargassed Climate Protesters At Point-Blank Range

The protesters were demanding action on climate change on a day when temperatures in Europe were threatening to smash all-time high records.

Posted on June 28, 2019, at 1:01 p.m. ET

Charles Platiau / Reuters

French CRS riot police remove French youth and environmental activists as they block a bridge during a demonstration to urge world leaders to act against climate change.

Paris police teargassed protesters staging a sit-in to demand action on climate change at point-blank range Friday, on a day when temperatures in France topped 110 degrees.

The protesters belong to the group Extinction Rebellion — XR for short. XR first made headlines in the UK in April, when it shut down major streets around London for more than a week to demand a response to global warming. XR groups have organized across Europe since then, using civil disobedience to try to push lawmakers to respond to the threat of climate change.

PARIS - Intervention des CRS qui utilisent des gazeuses pour tenter de déloger les militants. Plusieurs journalistes ont été empêcher de filmer.

The protesters gassed in Paris on Friday had reportedly blockaded the Sully Bridge, a major crossing of the Seine River not far from Notre Dame. Pictures and videos of the police’s actions quickly spread across Twitter, with many activists expressing outrage at the severity of the response.

[Reportage ce weekend sur @radioparleur ] #ExtinctionRebellion à Paris #SurlepontRebellion aujourd'hui en une image ->

Paris is in the grips of a heat wave that has spread across Europe, shattering heat records across the continent. Paris reached a high of 93 degrees today, while the temperatures soared to over 113 degrees in France’s southern region of Provence.

Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images

People cool off in the fountain of the Trocadéro esplanade in Paris on June 25.

French President Emmanuel Macron campaigned heavily on a commitment to address global warming, and this week said he would not sign a joint statement from the G-20 meeting if it did not address climate change. But some environmental groups have accused him of not doing enough to deliver on those commitments. In December, he also suspended a new gas tax in response to the Yellow Vest protests that shook French politics.

Cécile Duflot, a former French ecology minister and current executive director of Oxfam France, tweeted that the video of the protesters being teargassed was a “France 2019 allegory,” noting that while activists were being mistreated, “the President swaggers at the G20.”

France 2019 allégorie : 44,3 degrés, record absolu de température battu, en juin..! mais pendant ce temps les militants pour le climat sont maltraités, sur les passoires énergétiques c’est “on verra en... 2023” et le Président fanfaronne au G20.... 😡

Extinction Rebellion is part of a newer breed of environmental protest groups that have recently made climate change one of the most important political issues in Europe. It staged its London occupation after weeks of walkouts by high school students across the continent to demand climate action, inspired by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. A multinational protest on the Dutch–Belgian border drew tens of thousands of protesters last Friday. And Germany, where the environmentally focused Green Party is close to topping polls, also saw a wave of protests last weekend that included an occupation of a coal mine slated for expansion.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.