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French man loses hand in pre-festival clash

Seven people, including five police officers, were injured on Friday night as police broke up an illegal rave in Brittany.

Violent clashes broke out after 400 gendarmes were dispatched to shut down the party, a so-called ‘teknival’ which had been organised in violation of an 11pm curfew, at a racecourse near the commune of Redon on the evening of 18 June.

The rave was held on the eve of the annual Fête de la Musique festival – which takes place in a reduced-capacity format today (21 June) – and was intended to commemorate Steve Maia Caniço, a young man who died after falling into the Loire river during Fête de la Musique in 2019. ‘Justice for Steve’ protesters hold the police responsible for Caniço’s death, which occurred after officers moved in to break up a gathering in Nantes.

Authorities say some partygoers pelted police with molotov cocktails and pieces of breeze block

Local authorities had secured a legal order against the party, which involved as many as 1,500 people. The National Gendarmerie seized equipment including sound systems and generators after dispersing the crowds.

Speaking to AFP, local prefect Emmanuel Berthier describes the “very violent clashes” on 18 June between police and the ravers, who “had an objective: to confront the forces of public order”. Authorities say some partygoers brought metal pétanque balls to the rave, while others pelted police with molotov cocktails and pieces of breeze block.

Two police officers suffered serious enough injuries as to need hospital treatment, while two ravers were also injured – including one man who lost a hand in the violence. Organisers of the rave accuse police of choosing ‘violence instead of dialogue’ after firing tear gas grenades at the gathering.

 


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2,000 attend concert at Accor Arena in Paris

Christine and the Queens was among acts to perform to a 2,000-strong, socially distanced crowd at the Accor Arena on Friday (19 June) to kick of the Fête de la Musique celebrations, which later saw some flout Covid-19 restrictions on the streets of Paris and other cities.

The free-to-attend concert, Tous ensembles pour la musique (All together for music), was the first to take place in the 20,000-capacity arena in Paris, which was formerly known as the Accorhotels Arena, after almost four months of silence.

The arena operated at a tenth of its usual capacity to maintain social distancing rules and all fans had to wear masks during the event, which saw performances from over 40 Francophone artists including LEJ, Benabar, Salvatore Adamo and Vianney and was broadcast live on France 2.

A few days later, music fans from all over France gathered in the streets to mark the official date of the annual Fête de la musique – known as Music Day in English – which sees concerts held in bars, cafes, squares and parks throughout the country on 21 June.

The French Ministry of Culture, which created the annual festival in 1982, had announced that this year’s celebration could go ahead provided that concerts only took place in pre-authorised locations; a distance of one metre be kept between individuals; and public gatherings did not exceed ten people.

Bar, cafe and restaurant owners wishing to host concerts were advised that doing so was their own responsibility and advised not to if “likely to lead to uncontrolled gatherings on the street”.

“We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful”

“I call on all those who are about to travel to be careful and responsible,” said culture minister Franck Riester before the event. “We can celebrate music by keeping our distance and being careful.”

Despite the restrictions, images of the celebrations online have sparked criticism, showing large crowds gathering in many parts of France, most notably in Paris, without wearing masks or abiding by distancing measures.

In the city of Nantes, thousands also joined together to pay homage to Steve Maia Caniço, who disappeared following police intervention during last year’s festival.

Celebrations elsewhere in the country, as well as some in Paris, got underway in compliance with coronavirus restrictions. In the city of Rennes, home to Rencontres Trans Musicales, open-air concerts in undisclosed locations took place to avoid large gatherings, while a barge fitted with loudspeakers entertained locals in Strasbourg and musical floats appeared in the streets of Sète.

At the Institute of the Arab World in Paris, successive waves of 500 spectators took part in a series of karaoke sessions, seated around tables of ten, space out at intervals of three metres.

A number of virtual events also took place as part of this year’s festival, with DJ Jean-Michel Jarre performing as an avatar as part of a special, virtual-reality concert.

A ban on events over 5,000 people remains in place in France until September, although concerts with fewer than 5,000 attendees will be permitted from 11 July, with Live Nation France’s Big Tour kicking off later that month.

 


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French protesters clash with police over festival death

Police have clashed with the public in Nantes, France, during demonstrations in protest of the death of a festivalgoer in June.

The clashes erupted during a rally for Steve Maia Caniço on Saturday (3 August). Caniço died after falling into the Loire river when police raided an open-air techno concert.

The event, one of more than 4,000 free concerts making up the nationwide Fête de la Musique, or Music Day in English, was subject to police intervention as music “had exceeded the set time limit”.

Witnesses say officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to break up the live music event. An inquiry into Caniço’s death found no link to the police raid.

Witnesses say officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to break up the live music event

On Saturday, around 500 people gathered in the streets of Nantes to pay tribute to the deceased festivalgoer. A later demonstration, named “for Steve and against police violence”, led to clashes with police officers.

According to Ouest France, 33 people were detained in relation to the protest.

Fête de la Musique is an annual celebration of music encouraging people to put on live music events in public places. Originating in France in 1982, the celebration now takes place in countries all over the world.

 


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