French and American protesters urge Louvre to cut ties with donor over opioid crisis

Protesters gathered outside the Louvre in Paris on Monday to condemn the museum's ties with the Sackler family, billionaire donors accused of pushing a highly-addictive opioid blamed for tens of thousands of deaths.

French and American protesters urge Louvre to cut ties with donor over opioid crisis
Protesters gathered outside the Louvre in Paris to condemn the museum's ties with the Sackler family. Photo: AFP
Around 30 activists waved red banners reading “Shame on Sackler” and “Take down the Sackler” in front of the Louvre's famous glass pyramid, while others 
played dead next to the museum's fountain.
American group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and French charity AIDES want the museum to rename its Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, which got its name after the family gave $3.6 million (3.2 million euros) to refurbish the space more than two decades ago. 
The Louvre is the latest in a string of museums to face criticism over links to the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, whose painkiller OxyContin is now subject to more than 1,000 lawsuits over its role in the US opioid crisis.
Photo: AFP
In recent months, galleries including New York's Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum, and London's Tate and National Portrait Gallery, said they would stop accepting donations from the family.
In 2017, 47,000 people died in the United States as a result of overdosing on opioids including prescription drugs, heroin and fentanyl, the Centers for Disease Control says.
In the same year, another 1.7 million people suffered from addiction to painkillers like OxyContin.
There are hundreds of lawsuits in various US states against both Purdue and its owner the Sackler family, who are accused of pushing for the prescription of OxyContin despite knowing how addictive it is.
But worries about the medication are not confined to the US.
Last month, around 100 French doctors warned about the risk of a health crisis claiming there were “12 million people in France taking opioids” who had not been told about the potential for addiction and risk of overdose. 
Nancy Goldin (C), photographer and founder of the P.A.I.N. association and Fred Bladou (L), mission head of French NGO Aides, take part in the protest. Photo: AFP   
“The crisis is about to hit France,” American photographer Nancy Goldin, a former opioid addict, told the Paris protesters. 
Purdue, she said, “is going bankrupt, so they've expanded to a company called Mundipharma, which is moving all over the world with the same deceptive marketing techniques and is pushing doctors to prescribe, just as they did in America.”
The Sacklers “are using museums to (white)wash their reputation,” she said, calling on the Louvre “to take down their name”.
A Louvre spokesperson told AFP they were aware of the protest.

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Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.