Nearly 90K French po­lice to hit streets

Some Paris busi­nesses closed to thwart loot­ers

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Sa­muel Pe­tre­quin and Sylvie Cor­bet The As­so­ci­ated Press

PARIS — An­tic­i­pat­ing a fourth straight week­end of vi­o­lent protests, France on Fri­day mo­bi­lized ar­mored ve­hi­cles and thou­sands of po­lice, cor­doned off Paris’ broad boule­vards and made plans to shut down tourist sites like the Eif­fel Tower and Lou­vre.

The heavy se­cu­rity will put cen­tral Paris in a vir­tual lock­down Satur­day against what the in­te­rior min­is­ter called “rad­i­cal­ized and re­bel­lious peo­ple,” who au­thor­i­ties be­lieve will join mem­bers of the “yel­low vest” move­ment that has been hold­ing anti-govern­ment demon­stra­tions.

Na­tion­wide, about 89,000 po­lice will fan out in the streets, an in­crease from 65,000 last week­end, when more than 130 peo­ple were in­jured and over 400 ar­rested as the protests erupted into the worst street vi­o­lence to hit the French cap­i­tal in decades.

Fear­ing in­creas­ing vi­o­lence, hun­dreds of busi­nesses planned to close Satur­day, pre­fer­ring to lose a key hol­i­day shop­ping day rather than have stores smashed and looted, like they were a week ago when protests over ris­ing taxes turned into a riot.

Work­ers ham­mered ply­wood over the win­dows of shops and busi­nesses, mak­ing the plush Champs-el­y­sees neigh­bor­hood ap­pear to be brac­ing for a hur­ri­cane.

About 8,000 po­lice will be de­ployed across Paris, equipped with a dozen bar­ri­cade-bust­ing ar­mored ve­hi­cles that could be used for the first time in a French ur­ban area since ri­ots in 2005.

As it did last week­end, the U.S. Em­bassy ad­vised Amer­i­cans in France to avoid the demon­stra­tions.

Since the un­rest be­gan Nov. 17 in re­sponse to a sharp in­crease in diesel taxes, four peo­ple have been killed in protest-re­lated ac­ci­dents. Now the de­mands of the “yel­low vest” move­ment — named for the flu­o­res­cent safety gear that French mo­torists keep in their cars — is press­ing for a wider range of ben­e­fits from the govern­ment to help work­ers, re­tirees and stu­dents.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron on Wed­nes­day agreed to aban­don the fuel tax in­crease, but the pro­test­ers’ anger at his govern­ment has not abated. Macron, since re­turn­ing from the G-20 meet­ing last week­end, has kept largely out of sight, a move that has puz­zled sup­port­ers and crit­ics.

Fran­cois Mori The As­so­ci­ated Press

Work­ers carry a wooden piece to pro­tect shop win­dows Fri­day on the Champs-el­y­sees in Paris. The Arc de Tri­om­phe is seen in the back­ground. Heavy se­cu­rity will put cen­tral Paris in a vir­tual lock­down Satur­day.

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