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Yellow vest protests: Champs-Elysées set for Saturday lockdown over violence fears

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Yellow vest protests: Champs-Elysées set for Saturday lockdown over violence fears
Photo: AFP
17:02 CET+01:00
Fears that a planned yellow vest protest on the Champs-Elysées in Paris on Saturday could lead to more 'scenes of war' has prompted Paris authorities to considering closing the famous avenue just as the Christmas shopping season begins.
The 'yellow vests' have called for another demonstration on the Champs-Elysees this Saturday, sparking fears in Paris that the famous avenue could be left looking like a war zone once again
 
The hard left CGT union has also called on its members to join the event, which has been dubbed "Act 3 Macron resigns" and is scheduled to take place at 2 pm. 
 
Closing the Champs-Elysees is conceivable, Yves Lefebvre, head of the Unite-SGP FO police union told BFM TV. That was before the interior minister decided to allow pedestrians to access the famous avenue but they will have to show ID at a police check to do so.
 
"Yes, it's possible to do it," he said, adding that the police can do this "by setting up filtering points at the entrances to the Champs-Elysees and closing the metro stations".
 
Lefebvre has said there will also be bag searches in an attempt to limit the number of trouble makers in the area and an operation is underway to stop the people who caused trouble last week from coming back to the capital this Saturday. 
 
Saturday's violence was blamed on both left-wing and right-wing extremists who had infiltrated the ranks of the gilets jaunes.
 
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"The law enforcement service was a particularly bitter failure" last Saturday, said Lefebvre who said he regrets not closing the Champs-Elysees. "It was mismanaged: our police colleagues were exhausted". 
 
According to French press reports 3,600 police officers would be required to block off the avenue.
 
The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has said she is opposed to any new demonstration on the Champs-Elysees and said that the violence that occurred Saturday must not "recur".
 
So, while the first Saturday in December usually means the 'world's most beautiful avenue' is abuzz with holiday shoppers, this weekend it could be just police lining the Champs-Elysees. 
 
Shop owners have revealed that they have already received a written request from the police headquarters to clear their terraces, including furniture, a measure which had not been put in place last weekend. 
 
City Hall has estimated the damage left by last weekend's protest in the region of "several hundred thousands of euros" and in a bid to avoid this kind of destruction happening again the Paris authorities have been pressuring the French government to meet with the protesters. 
 
The deluxe store Dior reortedthat one million euros worth of products were stolen by looters during the violence, that was blamed on both left and right wing extremists.
 
And on Thursday it was announced that a meeting would be taking place between an official delegation of 'yellow vests' and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Friday.
 
"Édouard Philippe wishes to meet them Friday, November 30th at 2 pm," said a release from the protest group, which stated that 'yellow vests' hope "that this meeting is more satisfactory and concrete than the one with Environment Minister Francois de Rugy which took place on Tuesday. 
 
 
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