Paris prison guards burn tires, clash with riot police outside Europe’s largest jail (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Police faced-off with prison guards calling for better labor conditions who set up barricades at the Fleury-Merogis jail outside Paris. Tires were set on fire and smoke grenades were also reportedly used at the scene.
The demonstrators are hoping that their protest help draw attention to the dangers faced by prison officers in their daily routine.
“They are not listening, so we have to be here,” union representative Thibault Capelle told Le Parisien.
“We are asking for more staff to deal with prison overcrowding.”
”The prisoners are becoming younger and more and more violent," a senior officer told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
"If they do not have what they want at once, they hit the first supervisor who passes."
The prison employees are demanding guarantees for their personal safety at the workplace, as well as increased staff numbers and a reduction in the number of prisoners.
Last Thursday, young inmates attacked security personnel leaving at least six prison guards injured. That assault resulted in a planned strike which is set to continue on Tuesday.
Riot police were deployed to the scene, where at around 19:30 pm on Monday evening, some 350 guards set up barricades and bonfires blocking all entrances and exits from the penitentiary.
“We are going to stay in front of the prison all night, to protest," Marcel Dure, a representative of the FO Union told the French newspaper. He also confirmed that around 9:30 pm, supervisors started to burn tires.
A representative of the FO Union told Le Parisien that prison security personnel must be increased by at least 10 percent in Fleury, where the occupancy rate is close to 190 percent. The prison guards also demand a repeal of legislation requiring them to justify strip searches of detainees.
The protesters are also seeking permission for a general search of the prison to seize cell phones and weapons that place the guards' lives at risk. The unions further demand a meeting with administration officials of the facility.
The overcrowded Fleury-Merogis jail – holding some 3,800 detainees – is the largest prison in Europe, and has been in the spotlight after the mastermind of the November 2015 Paris attack, Salah Abdeslam, was transferred there in April 2016.