Riot police bracing for more violence in Paris
‘Radicalized people’ expected to join rally against tax hikes
PARIS — Anticipating a fourth straight weekend of violent protests, French authorities on Friday mobilized armored vehicles and tens of thousands of police, cordoned off Paris’ broad boulevards, and made plans to shut down tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and the 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 antigovernment demonstrations.
Nationwide, 89,000 police are expected to fan out in the streets, an increase from 65,000 last weekend, when more than 130 people were injured and more than 400 arrested. The Paris 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, as 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 Champselysees 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 said. “Some ultraviolent people want to take part.”
President Emmanuel Macron met Friday night with about 60 antiriot security officers who will be deployed in Paris. He made the unannounced visit to a fort in Nogentsurmarne, east of Paris, and thanked the officers for their work.
About 8,000 police will be deployed across Paris, equipped with a dozen barricadebusting armored vehicles that could be used for the first time in a French ur ban area since riots in 2005.
The U.S. Embassy advised Americans to avoid the demonstrations.
Police removed any materials from the streets that could be used as weapons, especially in highrisk areas. Those included the renowned Champselysees, which would normally be packed with tourists and shoppers. “It’s with an immense sadness that we’ ll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said. “Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people.”
Students in Toulouse, France, staged a protest against education reforms Friday. In Paris, about 8,000 police will be deployed Saturday to prevent a riot like the one that rocked the city last weekend.