An attempt to disperse a massive illegal New Year party in France’s northwest has turned into clashes between the gendarmerie and rowdy partygoers, who pelted officers with projectiles and set a police car on fire.
The underground party was held overnight in the town of Lieuron in defiance of anti-coronavirus restrictions banning mass gatherings. It has attracted between 2,000 and 2,500 revelers, many of whom appear to have come “from other departments [of France] and from abroad”, the prefecture of Ille-et-Vilaine has said.
Local gendarmes were dispatched to the scene to break up the rave, but the partygoers were clearly not ready to stop celebrating and fended them off. The officers were pelted with various objects, three of them sustaining light injuries, and at least one of their vehicles was torched. Footage from the scene circulating online shows the car engulfed in flames with onlookers cheering in the background.
The revelers have reportedly been “very determined” to continue partying, and law enforcement agents ultimately opted to cordon off the area to prevent more people joining the rave. As of early Friday, it was still continuing despite the police presence.
The party is taking place in a disused warehouse belonging to a transport company. An investigation is underway to find those responsible for organizing the illegal event and to identify those who used violence against the gendarmes.
A smaller-scale event was also shut down overnight in the southern city of Marseille, with some 300 people estimated to be in attendance. The three alleged organizers of the event have been arrested, and some 150 partygoers were each fined €135 for violating the coronavirus restrictions.