Video of firefighters clashing with policemen is from 2020, and not from recent pension protests in France

By: Chandan Borgohain
April 13 2023

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Video of firefighters clashing with policemen is from 2020, and not from recent pension protests in France


The Verdict False

This is an old clip. The incident took place in January 2020 and is unrelated to ongoing protests in France over raising the legal age for pensions.

Claim ID b4b4e73c


French President Emmanuel Macron's proposed pension reform, which includes a provision to raise the legal age of pension from 62 to 64 years, has sparked massive protests across the country since January 2023. As the protests carry on, there have been reports of clashes and violence between the police and angry protesters in different parts of the country. According to a report by DW, over 1,000 law enforcement officers and firefighters have been injured in the protests since March 16. 

In the wake of this, several videos have been circulating on social media claiming they are linked to the ongoing unrest in the country. A video clip widely shared on Twitter and other social media platforms shows an alleged face-off between a group of firefighters and policemen. Those sharing the video, among them known conspiracy theorist Stew Peters, claimed or implied that the confrontation broke out amid the recent protest against Macron's government. 

In Fact

A reverse image search on the keyframes of the video led us to a three-year-old video uploaded on a YouTube channel, Storyful Viral. The video, published on January 29, 2020, was titled "French Riot Police Clash With Firefighters as Paris Protests Continue." The YouTube video is over two minutes long, and the viral clip is a shorter version of the same video. 

The video was also uploaded by the French news organization Horz-Zone Press on their YouTube channel on January 29, 2020. The video's description, written in French, when translated into English, states that the clip showed a dozen personnel of the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, the general reserve of the French National Police, charging a group of firefighters on the sidelines of a protest held by the latter. The caption also added that the incident took place in Cours de Vincennes street in Paris.

Several news organizations reported that on January 28, 2020, thousands of firefighters held a demonstration in the French capital demanding better pay and working conditions. A report published in The Guardian the same day stated that the demonstration was part of a long-running protest movement, which also demanded an increase in firefighters' hazard bonus, which had reportedly not changed since 1990. The report also added that videos of clashes had gone viral on social media and sparked criticism against the government over French police tactics of crowd control at demonstrations. 

The Verdict

The clash, shown in the viral clip, between policemen and firefighters in Paris took place in January 2020. Claims linking the video with the ongoing strikes in France are not true, hence, we mark this claim false.

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