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Paris and other French cities braced again as 'yellow vests' set for more Saturday protests

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Paris and other French cities braced again as 'yellow vests' set for more Saturday protests
Photo: AFP
08:42 CET+01:00
Paris and cities around France are once again gearing up for another Saturday of "yellow vest" protests which on previous weekends have been marred by severe violence, looting and ransacking of shops. Police will once again be out in force.

Paris Chief of Police, Michel Delpuech, said he plans to “deploy a number of police similar to last week in terms of resources, strength and strategy” on Saturday. 

This means 8,000 police officers including the CRS, or riot police, and police on horseback in the capital, as well as 14 armoured vehicles among other resources. Around the country 89,000 officers will be on duty.

From Friday evening onwards police will carry out inspections in stations, on roads and in the streets to prevent protesters from bringing weapons into the capital.

The following map shows where Saturday's  "yellow vest" road blocks will take place in France. Zoom in and out in the bottom left corner.  

While the Chief of Police did not confirm if he was expecting the same volume of protesters in Paris this Saturday, he did indicate the protests would not shut down the city saying it was necessary to find a "balance between safety measures and allowing the economic and touristic life of the city to breathe."

He went on to confirm, contrary to last weekend, that museums and monuments such as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower would be open as usual.  

But some cultural sites including the Catacombs and the Petit Palais will close for the day.

However store and restaurant owners, especially those around the Champs Elysées are likely to take their own decisions to board up their businesses to avoid being the victim of rioters and looters.

These business owners have already lost a huge percentage of their takings at a time of year when many expect to be at their busiest.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called on the anti-government protesters to be "reasonable", citing the strain on security forces after the bloodshed in Strasbourg on Tuesday evening.

But many members of the 'yellow vest' movement are determined to protest for a fifth weekend, despite pleas by the government to end the protests following the terror attack in Strasbourg and President Emmanuel Macron's promise to increase the minimum wage and offer various tax breaks on wages and pensions.

"We need to amplify the movement more than ever and we need the maximum number of yellow vests to protest. We are fully behind the Strasbourg victims and we are also completely determined to keep going," one yellow vest wrote on Facebook.

Some 24 000 yellow vests have expressed interest in attending the Facebook event Acte V Paris on the Champs Elysee tomorrow, and 36 000 are planning to attend Acte V Le Peuple Contre Attaque at an, as yet, unspecified location in the capital.

Eric Drouet, one of the leading figures in the movement has said the location will be made public early on Saturday.

On the last two Saturday's around 135,000 have participated in protests which descended into violence in Paris and other big cities such as Bordeaux, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne and Nantes.

The problem for Macron is that many protesters seem unmoved by his offer and mea culpa.

"Initially I thought Macron had heard us at least a bit, but when you look at the details, he hasn't at all," said Thomas Miralles, a yellow vest spokesman in the southern Pyrenees-Orientales department.

"I'll be in Paris on Saturday, for the first time," he added.

However, the terror attack, along with Macron's proposals to increase the minimum wage, have lead some other yellow vests to call for a focus on discussion, rather than more protests this weekend, for fear of losing the public's sympathy.

On Thursday Jaqueline Mouraud, spokesperson for Les Gilet Jaunes Libres, encouraged fellow protesters start meeting with government officials to discuss their concerns.

“The door is open for us to meet members of government, everybody needs to make appointments to do so,” she said.

A major survey of French private-sector business activity indicated that output shrank in December for the first time in two and a half years, underscoring the economic impact of the "yellow vest" protests that have swept the country.

An OpinionWay poll for LCI television after Macron's speech showed 54 percent wanting the "yellow vest" protests to halt, compared with 46 percent in favour of further action.

Another poll, by Odoxa, found 54 percent in favour of continued protests -- down from 66 percent on November 22 -- and 46 percent opposing the movement.

 
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Boggy - 15 Dec 2018 09:27
Two of my fiends have had to close their respective businesses for the third Saturday, moving stock and equipment out of the line of sight. Who do these morons think is going to pay for all these concessions they have been given? The business owners of course who are already crippled with all the tax, etc they have to pay. It's no wonder shops are closing, one can only squeeze a euro so much before it breaks.
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