Weekend violence, protests expected
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 degenerated 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.
“According to the information we have, some radicalized and rebellious people will try to get mobilized tomorrow,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told a news conference. “Some ultra-violent people want to take part.”