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The movement of the Nuit Debout, loosely translated as “Standing Up at Night”, at the Place de la République in Paris, April 4, 2016.
The movement of the Nuit Debout, loosely translated as “Standing Up at Night,” at the Place de la République in Paris, April 4, 2016.Stephane Lagoutte—MYOP
The movement of the Nuit Debout, loosely translated as “Standing Up at Night”, at the Place de la République in Paris, April 4, 2016.
A representative of the Nanterre University students, speaks to the crowds in the Place de la République.
The crowd sits in circles listening to members of the movement speak, all evening, every day at the Nuit Debout.
More than two weeks after the beginning of Nuit Debout , the square continues to fill up every night, April 16, 2016.
This evening ends earlier than expected due to riots. People from Nuit Debout stand between police and rioters, May 1, 2016.
Nuit Debout at the Place de la République in Paris, April 16, 2016.
People voicing their opinions in at the Place de la République in Paris, April 4, 2016.
Speeches and writings are displayed: "Love is everywhere" and "Democracy is not elections: this is the draw."
People coming together at the Nuit Debout, April 4, 2016.
At the Nuit Debout, the General Assembly (from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm) validate the decisions of the various committees.
A concert organized by red night and convergence of struggle. On the sidelines of the General Assembly that still runs every night, May 1, 2016.
Standing Radio (Radio Debout) encourages free speech. There is also a standing TV (TV Debout) and a free food stall where you can pay what you want.
Nuit Debout , Poetry commission. Everyone can organize a commission according to his interests and questions, April 16, 2016.
The Commission of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) at the Nuit Debout.
On Labor Day, the evening ends earlier than expected due to riots, May 1, 2016.
A sticker reading "utopian standing" lies on the ground at the Place de la République in Paris, April 4, 2016.
The movement of the Nuit Debout, loosely translated as “Standing Up at Night,” at the Place de la République in Paris,
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Stephane Lagoutte—MYOP
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Inside France's New Kind of Nightly Protests

Jun 07, 2016

It started as a protest against proposed reforms that would loosen France’s complex labor regulations. On March 31, thousands of people — most of them young — converged on Paris’ Republique Square. Their goal: to stay up all night in a new form of demonstration that would force the government to take notice.

Called Nuit Debout — "Standing Up All Night" — the movement has spread to more than 80 cities in France and abroad, attracting people from different backgrounds and with different demands. For French photographer Stephane Lagoutte, Nuit Debout echoes other protest movements across the globe, from “The Indignant” on Syntagma Square in Athens to Occupy Wall Street in New York. “I wasn’t there for those, so if something was going to happen here, I wanted to witness it,” he says.

At first, the movement purposely lacked leadership. Anyone could address the crowd as dozens of speakers succeeded each other all night long. But, as the weeks passed, a sort of central governance took form; stands were set up and tents were installed. “People started helping each other,” says Lagoutte. “The crowd included families, people in need, people looking to speak up and some who wanted a drink or to party.”

Some nights turned violent as marginal groups infiltrated the movement to face off with police forces. But overall, the movement has remained peaceful and continues unabated, despite the French government’s steadfast resolve in pushing forward with its reforms.

Now, after almost three months, Lagoutte feels that Nuit Debout needs to become more mature if protesters want to truly make a difference. “The fervor comes from a sense of disenchantment against politicians,” he says. “The leftist government has failed to prove it was independent from powerful financial institutions. This led to the feeling that if true change is to come in this world, it had to come from citizens themselves. But this movement needs to mutate if it wants to lead to something concrete.”

Stephane Lagoutte is a French photographer represented by the MYOP photo agency.

Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.

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