Thousands of police drafted in as Paris fears return of violent protests

Around 7,500 police officers and soldiers will be deployed in the streets of central Paris on Saturday as the French capital braces for a weekend of violence during the 45th edition of ‘gilets jaunes’ protests and climate change demos.

Thousands of police drafted in as Paris fears return of violent protests
Photos: AFP

Paris officials are comparing the police mobilization to that used during May 1st “yellow vest” protests in the city, a day of violence which saw 40,000 protesters pour into the streets and violent incidents leading to the arrest of 220 people. 

Police intelligence have been tracking social media posts by groups known to authorities for causing trouble, calling on ‘Acte 45’ to be a particularly violent one.

“An evening of barricades”, “a historic protest” and “all of France in Paris” are some of the calls to action which are leading authorities to expect a larger turnout than in previous months.

“Tomorrow, there will be people looking to take revenge,” Paris Police Department head Didier Lallement told Le Parisien, in reference to French ultra left groups’ failed counter-summit of the G7, held in late August in Biarritz.

Two main events are scheduled in Paris for this Saturday, one in Denfert-Rochereau district in the 14th arrodissement of Paris and a second march ending in Bercy in the 12th arrondissement.

A special firefighting unit will also be on call, travelling around the city on motorbikes to quickly get to the burning cars and dustbins set alight by the most radical protesters.

Almost 8,000 members of law enforcement will be divided into approximately 65 units.

“There will be a of lot us but unfortunately we won’t be able to secure every area, which explains why certain monuments will be cordoned off,” Philippe Capon, Secretary General of UNSA Police Union, told Le Point.

The French weekly news magazine has had access to a police briefing which speaks of “the will of the Yellow Vests to reclaim the Champs-Elysees” and how “a group of radicals plans to infiltrate authorized demonstrations, including the march for peace and climate”.

The official document mentions how police are expecting “between 100 and 200 anti-state militants aiming to create insurgency” as well as how “the ultra-yellow (radicalized yellow vests) have planned to join the event on pensions to take over lead and cause problems”.

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