John Lichfield to hand over €13k raised for Paris kiosk owners hit by yellow vest violence

The Local's columnist John Lichfield is to hand over €13,000 from a fund he set up to help raise money for the owners of the Paris kiosks that were burned out during "yellow vest" protests.

John Lichfield to hand over €13k raised for Paris kiosk owners hit by yellow vest violence
A total of nine kiosks were destroyed on the Champs-Elysées. Photo: AFP
The shocking violence that engulfed the Champs-Elysées earlier this month was largely targeted at the expensive designer boutiques, but nine of Paris' iconic news kiosks were also destroyed.  
The kiosquiers are generally sole traders who don't make a great deal of money. Although the city of Paris is responsible for replacing the kiosks, the kiosquiers were responsible for replacing their destroyed stock, and faced a way of several weeks before they could start trading again.
John Lichfield is a British journalist living in France, and writes a regular column for The Local.
So France-based British journalist, and columnist for The Local, John Lichfield began a fund to help them out.
Originally intended as a small fund to make a few hundred euro each for the affected traders, the idea snowballed and picked up support from around the globe.
In just two weeks, he has raised €13,559 and had donations from the US, Britain, France, Scandinavia, Germany and Italy. 
He said: “I must say I never expected so much interest or so much generosity from all over the world. The messages posted on the site suggest there is a lot of love out there for the kiosquiers as a characteristic part of the Paris scene but also for Paris itself and for France. ”  
He will now be going to a donor's conference in Paris on Tuesday to hand over the money to the kiosquiers' union, to be distributed among their members who are in need.
Nelly Todde is vice-president of the Syndicat des kiosquiers and has worked at the kiosk on the Boulevard St Germain in the Latin Quarter for the past 32 years.
One of the burned-out kiosks on the Champs-Elysées. Photo: AFP
She said: “We're delighted that all these funds were raised on behalf of all the kiosks, it happened very spontaneously. We thought it was extraordinary that people abroad were interested by what was happening in Paris.
“I think people felt concerned and were touched by what was happening in Paris. They know that kiosquiers don't have many means, and they know how difficult things are for the press all over the world.
“But also what kiosquiers represent historically: these tiny shops that are part of Paris' charm. I think everyone loves the kiosks in Paris.
“If they go, Paris also loses part of its charm.”
José Russo, whose kiosk on the Champs Elysées was one of those burned, told French newspaper Le Figaro that he abandoned his kiosk just before it was set alight in the riots on March 16. 
“Why pick on a little businessman like me?” he said, adding that he earns €900 a month and blames an “insatiable appetite for destruction.”
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has also announced an aid fund of €1.5 million for anyone whose business has been damaged during the weeks of “yellow vest” protests. 


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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?