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Gilets jaunes protests: armoured vehicles to be deployed in Paris Gilets jaunes protests: armoured vehicles to be deployed in Paris
(35 minutes later)
French security forces will deploy armoured vehicles in Paris on Saturday in anticipation of more violence and rioting by fringe elements of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement.French security forces will deploy armoured vehicles in Paris on Saturday in anticipation of more violence and rioting by fringe elements of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement.
A government official said 89,000 police and gendarmes would be mobilised across the country, 8,000 of them in the French capital, alongside a dozen VBRG armoured vehicles. A government official said 89,000 police and gendarmes would be mobilised across the country, 8,000 of them in the capital, alongside a dozen VBRG armoured vehicles.
“We are facing people who are not there to demonstrate, but are there to smash things up and we want to make sure we’re not leaving them to do what they want,” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in an attempt to justify the use of the VBRG, which are capable of firing tear-gas grenades and clearing barricades and rarely used in city areas. “We are facing people who are not there to demonstrate but are there to smash things up and we want to make sure we’re not leaving them to do what they want,” said the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, attempting to justify the use of the VBRG, which are capable of firing teargas grenades and clearing barricades and are rarely used in city areas.
Who are the gilets jaunes and what do they want?Who are the gilets jaunes and what do they want?
Paris went into lockdown on Friday, as the city prepared for a fourth weekend of protests. There was a sense of impending attack in the city centre as banks, shops, restaurants and businesses rushed to board up their premises to protect windows from looters. Paris went into lockdown on Friday as the city prepared for a fourth weekend of protests. There was a sense of impending attack in the city centre as banks, shops, restaurants and businesses rushed to board up windows to protect their premises from looters.
At Place de la Bastille, which is currently undergoing pedestrianisation, workers cleared away metal and concrete barriers and carried off anything that could be thrown. The windows of the Banque de France were being hurriedly boarded up on Friday morning. Staff at the Bastille Opéra were reported to have locked the orchestra’s instruments somewhere safe fearing an assault on the building. At Place de la Bastille, which has been undergoing pedestrianisation, workers cleared away metal and concrete barriers and carried off anything that could be thrown. The windows of the Banque de France were being boarded up on Friday morning. Staff at the Bastille Opéra were reported to have locked the orchestra’s instruments somewhere safe fearing an assault on the building.
Parisiens, even those far from the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde – the scenes of violent clashes in previous weeks – were advised not to leave dustbins on the streets for fear they could be set alight. Parisiens, even those far from the Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde – the scenes of violent clashes in previous weeks – were advised not to leave dustbins on the streets for fear they could be set alight.
The preparations come after the city saw the worst street unrest in 50 years last Saturday as groups of casseurs (hooligans), confronted riot police, torched vehicles and looted shops. Last Saturday the city saw the worst street unrest in 50 years as groups of casseurs (hooligans) confronted riot police, torched vehicles and looted shops.
The Eiffel Tower and Louvre museum will remain closed on Saturday. In Bordeaux, a dozen public buildings will be closed. Six Ligue 1 football matches have been cancelled.The Eiffel Tower and Louvre museum will remain closed on Saturday. In Bordeaux, a dozen public buildings will be closed. Six Ligue 1 football matches have been cancelled.
The gilet jaunes movement started as a protest against a proposed rise in diesel and petrol tax, and takes its name from the yellow high-vis jackets that all motorists must by law carry in their cars. It quickly expanded into a wider anti-government movement with a list of diverse demands, many associated with living standards.The gilet jaunes movement started as a protest against a proposed rise in diesel and petrol tax, and takes its name from the yellow high-vis jackets that all motorists must by law carry in their cars. It quickly expanded into a wider anti-government movement with a list of diverse demands, many associated with living standards.
The vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, their anger directed at a president perceived as aloof and out of touch and a government seen to represent a political elite that has no idea how la France d’en bas – the less well-off – live.The vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, their anger directed at a president perceived as aloof and out of touch and a government seen to represent a political elite that has no idea how la France d’en bas – the less well-off – live.
Outside of the capital, tax offices have been boarded up, though the association of rural mayors has asked local councillors to keep town halls open to allow “each citizen to verbally express their anger”.Outside of the capital, tax offices have been boarded up, though the association of rural mayors has asked local councillors to keep town halls open to allow “each citizen to verbally express their anger”.
Ministers have repeated calls for calm and requested protestors stay away from the capital as have union leaders, opposition parties and Roman Catholic clergy. Ministers have repeated calls for calm and asked protesters to stay away from the capital, as have union leaders, opposition parties and Roman Catholic clergy.
Hours before protesters were due to descend on the French capital, French media reported Emmanuel Macron had refused a demand to meet “moderate” gilets jaunes at the Elysée. On Friday French media reported that the president, Emmanuel Macron, had refused a demand to meet “moderate” gilets jaunes at the Elysée.
Benjamin Cauchy, an unofficial spokesman, said representatives of the movement had asked to see the president because “insurrection is at the gates of France and we don’t want any deaths this weekend”. Benjamin Cauchy, an unofficial spokesman, said representatives of the movement had asked to see the president because “insurrection is at the gates of France and we don’t want any deaths this weekend”. The Elysée responded that the prime minister’s door “remained open”.
The Elysée responded that the prime minister’s door “remained open”. Macron has been silent since Wednesday evening when he performed a surprising volte-face on the fuel tax, announcing it was being cancelled, hours after Philippe had told the Assemblée Nationale it was being frozen and “might” be abandoned.
Macron has been silent since Wednesday evening when he performed a surprising volte-face on the fuel tax, announcing it was being cancelled, just hours after Philippe had told the Assemblée Nationale it was being frozen and “might” be abandoned. French media quoted officials as saying the president was anxious not to inflame the situation by addressing the country before Saturday’s demonstrations. He is expected to give a televised address at the beginning of next week.
French media quoted officials saying the president was anxious not to inflame the situation by addressing the country before Saturday’s demonstrations. He is expected to give a televised address at the beginning of next week. Efforts to prepare for what gilets jaunes demonstrators are calling Act IV of their action is hampered by the grassroots movement having no formal organisation or leadership, posing a unique challenge for the French authorities.
Efforts to prepare for what gilets jaunes demonstrators are calling Act IV of their action is hampered by the grassroots movement having no formal organisation or leadership, posing an unique challenge to the French authorities.
‘Macron’s arrogance unites us’ – on the barricades with France’s gilets jaunes‘Macron’s arrogance unites us’ – on the barricades with France’s gilets jaunes
Speaking to gilets jaunes protesters, a recurring theme is the feeling their leaders hold them in contempt. Attempts by the Elysée and government to calm the volatile crisis, including dropping the fuel tax, and pledges to review the complex tax system, have done little to appease protesters. Speaking to gilets jaunes protesters, a recurring theme is the feeling that France’s leaders hold them in contempt. Attempts by the Élysée and government to calm the crisis, including dropping the fuel tax and pledging to review the complex tax system, have done little to appease protesters.
The insurrection is being further fuelled on social media websites by conspiracy theories and fake news, including widely spread but false claims Macron is “selling France” to the United Nations, World Bank or other international organisations planning to let millions of migrants take over France. The reports have been viewed several million times. The insurrection is being further fuelled on social media by conspiracy theories and fake news, including widely spread but false claims that Macron is “selling France” to the United Nations, World Bank or other international organisations planning to let millions of migrants take over France. The reports have been viewed several million times.
The French government has also deployed police to deal with high school student protests. A video showing police forcing students to kneel in rows with their arms behind their backs has caused shock and further criticism of the government.The French government has also deployed police to deal with high school student protests. A video showing police forcing students to kneel in rows with their arms behind their backs has caused shock and further criticism of the government.
Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the images had to be seen in the context of police responding to student violence. “There are shocking images because we are in a climate of exceptional violence,” Blanquer said. The education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, said the images had to be seen in the context of police responding to student violence. “There are shocking images because we are in a climate of exceptional violence,” Blanquer said.
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