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Video: police vs. protesters in France

In this wince-inducing police versus protesters video, viewed over 374,000 times already, a woman can be seen as she is dragged away by her feet while a baby that is strapped to her back becomes dislodged and is briefly dragged along with her.

A pregnant woman seems to be passed out on her back on the sidewalk with her belly exposed, while a man’s voice pleads for an ambulance to be called. Amid the crush of bodies, confusion and chants for the police to leave them alone, young children can be seen and heard crying as they are taken from their mother’s arms.

Dozens of police were called to the northeast suburb of La Courneuve to disperse a group of protesters fighting against expulsion from a squat in a housing estate set to be demolished. The families were offered between three and 12 nights of accommodation at a hotel but deemed the option inadequate since they are fighting for more permanent housing.

The protesters, mostly African immigrants, took their protest to the streets, set up a camp outside of the project, linked arms, sat on the pavement and ignored multiple requests by police to disperse.

Was the police response heavy-handed or were they doing their job? Did participating in a protest with babies strapped to their backs make the mothers bad parents or did it make them more sympathetic? Does broadcasting the video incite people to act or simply react?

The housing rights group that shot the July 21 footage deemed it the first time they were seeing such violence against women and children during an expulsion. The mothers ended up accepting the temporary housing offer, CNN reported on its website, citing the leader of the rights groups.

Amazingly, no one was hurt beyond scrapes and bruises, according to a journalist from the Mediapart website, which publicized the video.