278 pro­test­ers nabbed in Paris

Manila Times - - World - AP PHOTO

PARIS: Paris po­lice de­tained nearly 300 peo­ple Satur­day ahead of fresh anti- gov­ern­ment “yellow vest” protests which au­thor­i­ties fear could turn vi­o­lent for a third week­end in a row.

Clad in their lu­mi­nous road safety jack­ets, dozens of demon­stra­tors — who ac­cuse Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron of only look­ing out for the rich — gath­ered at dawn on the Champs-El­y­sees, the scene last Satur­day of the worst ri­ot­ing in Paris for decades.

“We had to come to Paris to be heard,” said pro­tester Herve Benoit, ar­riv­ing with three friends from the Dor­dogne in west­ern France.

He called on the gov­ern­ment to boost peo­ple’s spend­ing power and in­crease taxes on the wealth­i­est.

By 8.40 am (0740 GMT) po­lice had al­ready de­tained 278 peo­ple.

Some 8,000 po­lice were de­ployed, car­ry­ing out checks on peo­ple ar­riv­ing at train sta­tions and at protest hotspots such as the Champs-El­y­sees and Bastille mon­u­ment.

A source close to the op­er­a­tion told AFP that at least 34 peo­ple were ar­rested for car­ry­ing masks, ham­mers, sling­shots and rocks that could be used to at­tack po­lice.

Shops, mu­se­ums, the Eif­fel Tower and many metro sta­tions were closed as much of the city­cen­ter went on ef­fec­tive lock­down.

con­certs were can­celed.

Last week­end’s vi­o­lence, which saw some 200 cars torched and the Arc de Tri­om­phe van­dal­ized, shook France and plunged Macron’s gov­ern­ment into its deep­est cri­sis so far.

In­te­rior Minister Christophe Cas­taner said he ex­pected “only a few thou­sand peo­ple” to de­scend on Paris af­ter the 8,000 pro­test­ers counted last week­end, “but among them are ul­travi­o­lent in­di­vid­u­als.”

“These past three weeks have pro­duced a mon­ster that its cre­ators no longer con­trol,” Cas­taner said, vow­ing “zero tol­er­ance” to­wards those aim­ing to wreak fur­ther de­struc­tion.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Fri­day evening met a del­e­ga­tion of self-de­scribed “mod­er­ate” yellow vests who have urged peo­ple not to join the protests.

Af­ter the meeting a spokesman from the move­ment, Christophe Cha­len­con, said Philippe had “lis­tened to us and promised to take our de­mands to the pres­i­dent.”

“Now we await Mr Macron. I hope he will speak to the peo­ple of France as a fa­ther, with love and re­spect and that he will take strong de­ci­sions,” he said.

Philippe said some 89,000 po­lice were be­ing mo­bi­lized na­tion­wide, with a dozen ar­moured ve­hi­cles de­ployed in Paris for the

Shops around the Champ­sEl­y­sees boule­vard boarded up their win­dows and emp­tied them of mer­chan­dise on Fri­day, while the Lou­vre, Musee d’Or­say and other mu­se­ums were shut.

Depart­ment stores were also stay­ing closed due to the risk of loot­ing on what would nor­mally be a busy shop­ping week­end in the run-up to Christ­mas.

For­eign gov­ern­ments are watch­ing de­vel­op­ments closely in one of the world’s most vis­ited cities.

The US em­bassy is­sued a warn­ing to Amer­i­cans in Paris to “keep

while Bel­gium, Por­tu­gal and the Czech Repub­lic ad­vised cit­i­zens plan­ning to visit Paris over the week­end to post­pone their visit.

In a warn­ing of im­pend­ing vi­o­lence, an MP for Macron’s party, Benoit Pot­terie, re­ceived a bul­let in the post on Fri­day with the words: “Next time it will be be­tween your eyes.”

Calls on so­cial me­dia for pro­test­ers to at­tack the po­lice or march on the pres­i­den­tial palace have es­pe­cially rat­tled the au­thor­i­ties.

Macron this week gave in to some of the pro­test­ers’ de­mands for mea­sures to help the poor and strug­gling mid­dle classes, in­clud­ing scrap­ping a planned in­crease in fuel taxes and freez­ing elec­tric­ity and gas prices in 2019.

But the “yellow vests,” some of whom who have be­come in­creas­ingly rad­i­cal­ized, are hold­ing out for more. Many are call­ing on Macron to re­sign.

The pro­test­ers be­gan block­ing roads, fuel de­pots and shop­ping cen­tres around France on Novem­ber 17 over soar­ing petrol prices that have hit peo­ple in the prov­inces who get around by car.

Pearl Har­bor sur­vivors salute dur­ing the Na­tional An­them at a cer­e­mony in Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii on Fri­day (Satur­day in Manila) mark­ing the 77th an­niver­sary of the Ja­panese at­tack. The Navy and Na­tional Park Ser­vice jointly hosted the re­mem­brance cer­e­mony at a grassy site over­look­ing the wa­ter and the Me­mo­rial. USSAri­zona

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