Claims that violent yellow vest protesters stormed the intensive care unit at a Paris hospital have been exposed as fake news after a video was posted on Facebook that apparently shows exactly the opposite.
Instead of seeing the protesters storming the hospital as was widely reported around the world, it actually shows them fleeing a charge by police officers in footage that has resulted in calls for the interior minister to resign.
Video Credit: CENfirstname.lastname@example.org
The viral video has notched up nearly half a million views in less than a day where it shows the nurses telling the protesters who flee up steps towards the hospital that they are not allowed inside and where a short while later they head back the way they have come.
The footage shot on 1st May which is now on the front page of every French news website appears to show yellow vest protesters seeking shelter inside the La Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris during the protests, as a column of riot police (CRS) make their way up the street.
Hospital staff who were watching the street gathering from the stairwell can then be seen heading inside and shutting the door as the police charge, and the footage gives no indication of any protesters attacking staff as has been alleged by French authorities, who arrested 32 people over the matter.
French media report that all those arrested have been released now that the footage has been shared on Facebook. According to Le Monde, the French opposition is now calling for Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner to resign.
On Wednesday he tweeted: “Here, at Pitie-Salpetriere, a hospital was attacked. The medical staff was attacked. And a police officer protecting it was wounded. Unshakeable support to our law enforcement agencies: they are the pride of the Republic.”
And on Thursday (yesterday) he is quoted in local media as saying: “The hospital was breached by force. Individuals tried to break into an intensive care unit. This is a very serious incident, these facts are inadmissible.”
The footage is believed to have been shot by member of staff at the hospital. At the beginning of the video, one of the staff can be heard saying: “Oh damn! Get inside! Get inside!”
Then, when protesters try to enter, member of staffs can be heard telling them: “There are sick people here!”, “F*ck off!” and “This is the intensive care unit, we can’t!”
Then the police officers arrive and begin to remove the protesters, at which point the medical staff open the door and a protester says: “They gassed us!”, to which a nurse replies “Don’t worry, they won’t do anything [to you].”
Then as the police and protesters move away, one of the medical staff can be heard saying: “I broke the door, I was pulling like crazy!” while another adds: “They didn’t know it was the intensive care unit.”
This apparently damning footage comes after it was initially made to seem that radical anti-capitalist, leftist protesters had deliberately targeted the hospital and attacked members of staff.
But a nurse told AFP that they “did not have their faces covered” and “just wanted to come inside.”
A colleague, Jerome Leclercq, was quoted as saying: “There was nothing violent, at least not towards us… It was more a state of panic, the fear of being beaten, to receive something from the police, than an attack, and in the end everything happened very calmly”.
The prosecutor’s office in Paris has since announced that all those who had been arrested have now been released and has said that it has opened an investigation to “shed light” on the matter. It is unclear if any have been charged.
Bruno Retailleau, the president of the Republicans in the Senate, said: “The Minister of the Interior must stop pouring oil on the fire and must now explain his statements denied by the facts”.
While Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of the left-wing Insoumis movement, reportedly said: “Mr Castaner is a liar, as well as being incompetent.” He also tweeted: “Caution. In a few hours, it will be discovered that the so-called attack on the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital is a manipulation of the system.”
And netizen ‘Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’ concluded: “The Government caught in the act of Fake News, enough of this propaganda! Castaner manipulated the facts to discredit his opponents: he must resign. There is enough violence as there is without having to invent some as well”.