Police deployed tear gas against crowds of illegal immigrants who attempted to storm a town hall in a Paris suburb, demanding a meeting with local authorities over the rights of foreigners, French media said. At least 14 migrants were reportedly injured during the scuffles.
The incident took place on Tuesday morning in the Alfortville commune in the Paris suburbs, some 4km from the French capital.
Crowds of undocumented migrants from several communes, including the neighboring Vitry, Montreuil, and Courbevoie, headed to the town hall, Le Parisien reported.
The protesters apparently wanted to speak with local authorities and discuss the rights of foreigners. According to local newspaper 94.Cityoens, at least 200 people turned out for the protest.
Town hall staff told Le Parisien that they hadn’t noticed the demonstrators’ arrival until it was “too late.”
The protesters blocked access to the building by forming a human chain. Police officers who arrived at the scene deployed tear gas against the migrants.
The video released by the newspaper shows protesters facing off with police at the entrance to the town hall. Some of the demonstrators are then seen lying on the ground, apparently injured.
At least 14 illegal immigrants were treated by medical staff for respiratory problems from the tear gas, local media reported. One person also told Le Parisien that he was “beaten by a baton,” although it’s unclear if he was a migrant or a passerby.
The commune’s mayor, Luc Carvounas, said that the migrants were given a chance to explain their demands but were not ready for a constructive dialogue.
“This illegal occupation prevented Alfortvillians from accessing public services throughout the morning, and caused anxiety among town hall staff and families who were already present in the building,” Carvounas said in a statement.
“Although staff received the men, and listened to their demands, the members of the collective did not wish to enter into any dialogue, instead contenting themselves with denouncing government policy.”
The town authorities told Le Parisien that they are currently checking if the protest was somehow linked to “extreme left groups.”
Alfortville was one of the first towns in France to welcome migrants back in October 2015, following the peak in the refugee influx into Europe, the town hall said.