A huge clean-up operation was under way in Paris on Sunday after French “yellow vest” demonstrators clashed with riot police in the latest round of protests against President Emmanuel Macron.
Protesters set fire to cars, burned barricades and smashed windows in pockets of violence across the city centre, clad in their emblematic luminous safety jackets, as armoured vehicles rolled through the streets.
The embattled president — whose name rang out across the Champs-Elysees as protesters shouted “Macron, resign” — is expected to address the demonstrations in a much-anticipated speech in the coming days.
‘Yellow vest’ protests also hit cities across France
But it was Paris which again bore the brunt of the violence and destruction.
“Dozens of shopkeepers have fallen victim to hooligans,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted. “Once again, this is deplorable.”
Thick plumes of black smoke from fires rose high into the sky as police fired tear gas, while numerous shops and a Starbucks cafe were ransacked.
“The weather is crap and so is this government,” a handful of protesters chanted as light rain began to fall. It turned to downpours by mid-evening, scattering many of the remaining demonstrators.
French PM Philippe calls for unity
Police reinforcements were boosted to 8,000 across the city, with armoured vehicles deployed in Paris for the first time. Shops along the Champs-Elysees and central department stores stayed shut with their windows boarded up to avoid looting. The Eiffel Tower, major museums and many metro stations were also closed as parts of Paris went on effective lockdown.
More than 670 protesters were detained in the capital, many of them stopped as they arrived at train stations or meeting points carrying hammers, petanque balls and other potential missiles.
Authorities also launched an investigation into social media activity from accounts allegedly drumming up support for the protests, sources told AFP. According to the UK’s Times newspaper, hundreds of online accounts linked to Russia were used to stoke the demonstrations.
Citing analysis by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, the Times said the accounts spread disinformation and used pictures of injured protesters from other events to enhance a narrative of brutality by French authorities.
Fragment of text by: FRANCE 24 (FRANCE 24 with AFP), date created : 09/12/2018 – 07:17, latest update : 09/12/2018 – 08:22
By Intell News Romania in English on December 9, 2018