Paris as­sesses dam­age af­ter ri­otous protest

Po­lice say 133 peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing 23 of­fi­cers, as pro­test­ers torched cars, smashed win­dows

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - SYLVIE CORBET

PARIS — French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron asked for an eval­u­a­tion of pos­si­ble protest se­cu­rity mea­sures Sun­day, a day af­ter a Paris demon­stra­tion against in­creased taxes and liv­ing costs de­volved into France’s worst ur­ban riot in a decade.

Hours af­ter he flew back to the French cap­i­tal from the G20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina, Macron held an emer­gency meet­ing at the Élysée pres­i­den­tial palace while crews worked to re­move charred cars, bro­ken glass and graf­fiti from the famed Champ­sÉlysées Av­enue and other top Paris sites.

Paris po­lice said 133 peo­ple were in­jured, in­clud­ing 23 po­lice of­fi­cers, as crowds trashed the streets of the cap­i­tal Satur­day. Of­fi­cers fired tear gas and used wa­ter can­non to tamp down the vi­o­lence as pro­test­ers torched cars, smashed win­dows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Tri­om­phe with spray paint.

Paris po­lice Pre­fect Michel Delpuech said some of­fi­cers de­scribed en­coun­ter­ing “un­prece­dented” vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing pro­test­ers us­ing ham­mers, gar­den­ing tools, bolts, aerosol cans as well as rocks in phys­i­cal con­fronta­tions.

Some rad­i­cal far-right and far-left ac­tivists were in­volved in the riot, as well as a “great num­ber” of pro­test­ers wear­ing yel­low jack­ets, Delpuech said. The flu­o­res­cent jack­ets, which French mo­torists are re­quired to have in their cars for emer­gen­cies, are an em­blem of a grass­roots cit­i­zens’ move­ment protest­ing fuel taxes.

Fires were started at six build­ings and more than 130 makeshift bar­ri­cades, and 112 ve­hi­cles were torched, Delpuech said.

Paris prose­cu­tor Remy Heitz said 378 peo­ple re­mained in po­lice cus­tody as of Sun­day evening, 33 of them mi­nors.

Ear­lier Sun­day, Macron vis­ited the Arc de Tri­om­phe, which had dam­aged stat­ues as well as graf­fiti. One slo­gan on the famed war memo­rial read: “Yel­low jack­ets will tri­umph.”

He then headed to a nearby av­enue where ac­tivists bat­tled po­lice on Satur­day to meet with fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers and restau­rant own­ers.

At the se­cu­rity meet­ing, the French leader asked his in­te­rior min­is­ter to con­sider mak­ing “adap­ta­tions” to se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures to try to con­tain on­go­ing protests sparked by ris­ing fuel taxes, Macron’s of­fice said in a state­ment.

Macron also asked Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe to meet with the heads of France’s ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the grass­roots move­ment be­hind the protests.

Plans for an ear­lier meet­ing be­tween the prime min­is­ter and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the move­ment col­lapsed last week af­ter a re­quest to broad­cast the talks live was re­jected. It was the third straight week­end of clashes in Paris in­volv­ing ac­tivists dressed in the yel­low vests of the new protest move­ment.

The grass­roots protests be­gan Nov. 17 with mo­torists up­set over a fuel tax hike, but have grown to en­com­pass a range of de­mands and com­plaints that Macron’s gov­ern­ment does not care about the prob­lems of or­di­nary peo­ple.

Speak­ing in Buenos Aires be­fore he flew home to Paris, Macron said he wel­comed the views of pro­test­ers but vowed that those who par­tic­i­pated in wreak­ing havoc would be held re­spon­si­ble for their be­hav­iour.

THIBAULT CA­MUS THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A man takes a snap­shot of charred cars near the Arc de Tri­om­phe on Sun­day, the day af­ter a protest against ris­ing taxes and the high cost of liv­ing turned into a riot in the French cap­i­tal.

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