France: Police clash with protesters at the Champs-Élysées
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Hundreds of cars flooded Paris’ city centre on Saturday to protest the ongoing coronavirus regulations in place across France and to voice the opposition to Covid passes. Taking a leaf out of the Canadian cousins’ books, French truckers and drivers came together to mount a widespread protest across the French capital, gridlocking the Champs-Élysées. Footage shared online shows tens of cars surrounding the Arc the Triomphe, with some passengers waving a French flag as horns are honked in protest.
Attempts to bloc the trafficked roundabout have been met with the immediate response of the local police, who have been preparing for the arrival of the so-called Freedom Convoy since Friday.
According to the Police department, around 7,200 officers have been deployed to enforce vehicle convoy bans over the next three days.
Prime Minister Jean Castex pledged to be inflexible with the protesters should they cause disruption to Parisians.
He told France 2: “If they block traffic or if they try to block the capital, you have to be very firm.
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“The right to demonstrate and to have an opinion are a constitutionally guaranteed right in our Republic and in our democracy.
“The right to block others or prevent coming and going is not.
According to local media, 50 demonstrators were evacuated from the Place de l’Etoile in Paris, at the end of the Champs Elysées.
The dispersal was done calmly even if the demonstrators who spent the night outside were reportedly angry about being removed.
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Twitter user @KARIMAMARKHODJ1, who has been sharing footage of the protests, said: “Champs-Élysées blocked.
“Other blockages will be put in place in the capital.
“The goal and to block in small groups several places.”
Modem president François Bayrou, an ally of Emmanuel Macron, said he sees a movement “of secession from a part of the country” which has “a desire for revolt” in the “convoys” of anti-vaccination pass protesters and opponents of the head of state.
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Cars carrying protesters managed to get through police checkpoints in central Paris to snarl traffic around the Arc de Triomphe monument.
Inspired by horn-blaring “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in Canada, the motorists waved French flags and honked in defiance of a police order not to enter the city.
Police told protesters to move on as some climbed on their cars in the middle of the roundabout at the top of the Champs Elysees Earlier police said they had stopped 500 vehicles that were trying to get into Paris and nearly 300 tickets were handed out to their occupants by mid-morning, police said.
Less than two months from a presidential election, President Emmanuel Macron’s government is eager to keep protests from spiralling into large-scale demonstrations like the anti-government “Yellow Vest” protests of 2018.
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