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YELLOW VEST

‘Stay indoors’: Bordeaux mayor fires warning to residents ahead of yellow vest protest

The mayor of the southwestern French city of Bordeaux called for residents to remain indoors Saturday and for shopowners to shutter their stores as the authorities brace for more "yellow vest" violence.

'Stay indoors': Bordeaux mayor fires warning to residents ahead of yellow vest protest
Trouble flared in Bordeaux last weekend during "yellow vest" protests. Photo: AFP

Bordeaux, one of the bastions of the four-month-old anti-government protest movement, has, like Paris, seen repeated rioting and destruction of property during successive Saturday protests that draw thousands of people.

READ ALSO: What to expect at this weekend's Yellow Vest protests across France

The centre-right mayor of France's fifth-biggest city by population, Nicolas Florian, said he was “very worried” about this weekend's edition, the 20th since mid-November.

“We're told there will be hundreds of hooligans and people who are spoiling for a fight (with the police),” said Florian, who took over from his long-serving predecessor Alain Juppe on March 7.

Bordeaux has seen several large and peaceful demonstrations since the “yellow vest” movement began. Photo: AFP

“I'm asking shop owners to lower their shutters for protection and I'm asking the people of Bordeaux to stay home to allow the police do their work and not risk any accident,” he told reporters.

At the start of the year, the “yellow vest” movement had appeared to be losing steam, with dwindling numbers of protesters seen by some as evidence that the hundreds of town-hall style debates on policy called by President Emmanuel Macron had defused their anger.

But two weeks ago, it revved up again, erupting into major rioting and looting on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris.

The Bordeaux police said they were bracing for similar scenes there on Saturday.

It cited the “manifest desire of certain violent, very determined groups to cause a major disturbance of the peace and damage” and declared a large part of the city centre off-limits to the protesters. 

On Friday, one of the key figures in the movement was fined €2,000 for organising two Paris protests without informing the authorities.

Eric Drouet, a 34-year-old truck driver who created a Facebook page that helped rally protesters against fuel taxes last November, did not appear at his trial because of work obligations, said his lawyer, who announced he would appeal the ruling.

He has denied being one of the organisers of the leaderless, grassroots revolt.  

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PROTESTS

What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?

A court in France has finally handed out sentences to some of those involved in the vandalism and theft at the Arc de Triomphe in December 2018 - when 'yellow vest' violence in Paris shocked the world.

What happened to the rioters who trashed the Arc de Triomphe during yellow vest violence?
'Yellow vest' protesters clash with police by the Arc de Triomphe on December 1st 2018 in Paris. Photo: Abdulmonam EASSA / AFP

The French court on Thursday sentenced eight people to suspended jail terms and community service for taking part in one of the most violent episodes of the anti-government ‘yellow vest’ protests that rocked France two years ago.

A total of nine stood trial this week for the incident, but one of them, a former soldier, was cleared for lack of evidence, presiding judge Sonia Lumbroso said at the verdict.

The court ruled the suspects were neither the instigators nor the main culprits of the vandalism and looting around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris, when scenes of destruction and fierce clashes with police made global headlines.

Most of them had no criminal records.

They were sentenced to 70 hours of community service for entering the monument, but those also found guilty of stealing items such as postcards, Arc de Triomphe models or miniature Eiffel Towers from the gift shop, were fined €100 for theft.

A ‘yellow vest’ protester arrives at the courthouse in Paris to attend the trial of ten people on charge of destruction and theft around the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris. Photo: Thomas COEX / AFP

One of the group, a man who was caught on camera trying to break down a door with a fire extinguisher, was handed the most severe sentence, a suspended prison term of eight months.

Dozens of cars were set on fire and businesses trashed all along the celebrated Champs-Elysées avenue on December 1st, 2018, the third Saturday of mass demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

READ ALSO: Macron risks losing support from left against Le Pen in French presidential election

He was accused of ignoring the plight of struggling French families and after months of protests he abandoned a planned fuel tax hike and raised spending on the lowest earners.

The protesters had already skirmished with security forces at earlier rallies, but police were unprepared for the rioting that engulfed the capital just a few weeks before Christmas.

Despite firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, the officers were forced to abandon their positions around the Arc de Triomphe, which honours France’s war dead.

Protesters snuffed out the eternal flame over the tomb of an unknown World War I soldier and spray-painted the stone walls with graffiti including “the yellow vests will triumph”.

Others forced their way inside the arch, ransacking the gift shop and damaging scores of artworks, causing damage that cost €1.2 million to repair.

READ ALSO: Is France’s ‘yellow vest’ movement really on its way back?

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