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Police in Paris fear bigger and more violent 'yellow vest' protest

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Police in Paris fear bigger and more violent 'yellow vest' protest
Photo: AFP
14:50 CET+01:00
French authorities and police in Paris fear Saturday's yellow vest protest in France will attract a more violent fringe element and lead to the kind of violent scenes witnessed in the French capital before Christmas. *French language learner article.*

*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.

French police said Friday they expect planned "yellow vest" demonstrations this weekend to be bigger and more violent than a week ago, as the protest movement which had shown signs of fatigue at the end of 2018 gains fresh impetus.

National police chief Eric Morvan told France Inter radio "we expect a return to a level of mobilisation seen before the Christmas holidays", for the ninth consecutive Saturday of nationwide protests, which have been characterised by clashes with police and destruction of property.

On January 5, around 50,000 people wearing the movement's trademark high-visibility vests demonstrated in Paris and other cities, an increase over late December but far below the nearly 300,000 that turned out for the inaugural protest in mid-November.

Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said he expected the demonstrators in Paris to outnumber the estimated 3,500 that attempted to march on the National Assembly last week.

"We think...the behaviour among the groups present will be marked by being more radical and they will be more tempted by violence," said the Paris police chief.

Delpeuch said that faced with the unpredictability of the protests the objective of the police was to be "spread out, mobile and reactive and to make arrests as soon as trouble flares."

Police will carry out stop and searches on protesters to make sure they are not carrying potential weapons or even "protective" equipment which police believe suggests a willingness "to go on the offensive".

Some 80,000 police will be on duty across the country including 5,000 in Paris, which is similar to the number of officers mobilised on weekends in the run up to Christmas.

The head of security in the Cher region announced that the "yellow vests" would be banned from demonstrating in the historic heart of Bourges, the central town on which some had set their sights Saturday.

Last week's protests were marked by a return of the clashes and destruction seen at the height of the protests in late November and early December.

In two particularly shocking scenes caught on video, a group of demonstrators used a forklift to ram the doors of the ministry of government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux, and a former professional boxer battered two police officers guarding a bridge over the Seine river.

"Week after week we have observed a drift towards increasingly violent behaviour," Delpuech told France Inter radio, adding that symbols of state power had become the chief targets.

The "yellow vests" accuse the police of fanning the flames with their liberal use of tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades against demonstrators.

They also point to a video showing a police captain in the southern city of Toulon beating demonstrators in support of their claim that the violence cuts both ways.

President Emmanuel Macron's government is taking an increasingly tough line with the revolt, which began in mid-November in the rural heartland over fuel taxes and quickly ballooned into a wholesale rejection of the president.T

The demonstrators accuse 41-year-old Macron and his government of being deaf to the concerns of ordinary citizens and of favouring the rich over the poor in their fiscal policies. 

Some are intent on forcing Macron from office.

French vocab to learn

To expect - anticiper

the level of mobilisation - le niveau de mobilisation

the behaviour - le comportement

Paris police cheif - Prefet de police de Paris.

unpredictability - l'imprévisibilité

to make an arrest - interpeller

weapons - armes

willingness - volonté

to ban - interdire

clashes - huerts

spokesperson - le porte-parole

 

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