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Anger as protesters trash Paris attacks memorial

Ben McPartland · 30 Nov 2015, 10:29

Published: 30 Nov 2015 10:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Nov 2015 10:29 GMT+01:00

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Since November 13th and indeed the terror attacks of January Place de la Republique in Paris has become the focal point for locals to show their unity and solidarity.

The Marianne statue at the centre of the square has also become a makeshift memorial, with mourners leaving bouquets, candles and other objects in memory of the victims.

On Sunday, demonstrators left an estimated 10,000 pairs of shoes beneath the statue and across the square (see picture below).

But on Sunday the square became the centre of violent clashes between French police and extreme left-wing groups on the eve of the COP21 conference.

Public and politicians condemned the rioters seemingly intent on clashing with police, but what shocked most was the willingness of many rioters to loot the memorial to find objects to throw at the police.

"It's indecent, a desecration. The statue is the tomb of the victims of the attacks," said Bertrand Boulet, a member of the "17 plus jamais" association which looks after and maintains the shrine.

Police published photos of Monday showing the types of objects that had been hurled in their direction by the radical protesters, including rocks, a hammer, a petanque ball, and candles from the memorial.

Images of the Place de la Republique after the clashes showed the square littered with rocks and flowers also taken from the memorial.

Boulet said he felt "sick" at what had happened. 

"We maintain the monument every week. This belongs to all French people," he said.

TV images also showed people having to sweep up broken glass from around the Marianne statue and rearranging the bouquets of flowers, posters and messages that had been left by mourners.

Police blamed the violence on a small number of extremists intent on causing trouble. 

The activists had ignored a ban on public protests that had been imposed in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.

French President Francois Hollande on Sunday condemned the "scandalous" behaviour of far-left activists and opposition parties demanded severe punishments for those who were involved in the violence.

Some 317 protesters were arrested on Sunday.


Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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