Police prepared as further Paris protests predicted
Upwards of 8,000 police will be in the French capital for what is predicted to be a fifth straight weekend of demonstrations.
Armoured vehicles and thousands of officers are to be deployed again in Paris on Saturday and Sunday as police anticipate a fifth straight weekend of violent protests.
Police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio that security services intend to deploy the same numbers and strength as last weekend, with about 8,000 officers and 14 armoured vehicles again in the city.
Mr Delpuech said the biggest difference will be the deployment of more groups of patrol officers to catch vandals, who last weekend roamed streets around the Champs Elysees, causing damage and looting.
Police arrested more than 1,000 people in Paris last weekend and 135 people were injured, including 17 police officers
A sixth “yellow vest” protester was killed this week, hit by a truck at a protest roadblock.
On Friday, President Emmanuel Macron called for calm and order.
“I don’t think our democracy can accept” the “occupation of the public domain and elements of violence,” he said at an EU summit in Brussels.
“Our country needs calm. It needs order. It needs to function normally again,” he added.
Despite calls from authorities urging protesters — who wear the fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to stop the protests, the movement rocking the country has showed no signs of abating.
“Last week, we pretty much handled the yellow vests but we also witnessed scenes of breakage and looting by criminals,” Mr Delpuech said. “Our goal will be to better control this aspect.”
In an effort to defuse the tensions sweeping the country, Mr Macron has acknowledged he is partially responsible for the anger behind the anti-government protests.
He has announced a series of measures aimed at improving French workers’ spending power but has refused to reinstate a wealth tax.
Many protesters have expressed disappointment at the measures and some trade unions are now calling for rolling strikes across the country.
“The best action is to go on strike,” said Philippe Martinez, head of leftist trade union CGT. “There are inequalities in this country and we need to make big company bosses pay.”