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Police Demonstrate Across France

November 22, 2001

PARIS (AP) _ Thousands of police officers, some dressed as convicts, demonstrated around France on Wednesday against low salaries, staffing shortages and a growing sense that the streets are not safe, even for police.

In the third demonstration in two weeks, angry police also denounced a law that gives sweeping rights to suspects. Seven police officers have been killed in the line of duty since the law took effect in June 2000.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin ordered a review of the law, an unusual gesture to police by his Socialist government.

Among other things, the law reduces the hours a suspect can be held without a lawyer present and limits to two years the time a suspect can be held before formal charges are filed.

The law became a major issue after a judge freed a jailed man in December 2000 who is now a suspect in a quadruple murder case. Jospin has noted the suspect, Jean-Claude Bonnal, was freed before the law took effect.

Some 6,000 police officers marched through Paris. Many were dressed up as convicts; others clipped target signs to their backs saying, ``We Are Not Rabbits!″

In the southeastern city of Lyon, around 1,700 police chanted slogans like ``A Cop, Ideal Target for Everyone.″ Demonstrations also were held in Montpellier, Marseille and Toulouse in the south, in Grenoble to the east.

Police protests have multiplied despite Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant’s announcement last week of $95 million in new funding.

``It is a problem within society which goes beyond funds, which nevertheless are important,″ said Jean-Luc Garnier, head of the police union Alliance.

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