In the midst of an anti-mandate demonstration, 500 cars were stopped outside Paris.
French police say they intercepted around 500 vehicles trying to enter Paris as part of an anti-mandate ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest on Saturday.
At three points outside of Paris, several groups of protesters who had taken cue from Canadian truckers were arrested. Participants were issued nearly 300 tickets by the authorities.
Police deployed thousands of officers and water cannons ahead of the protest. This was the first deployment of armored personnel carriers since the Yellow Vest protests of late 2018. An order was issued prohibiting the protests in Paris over fears that the demonstration could result in “public order disturbances.” Courts sided with the authorities, rejecting two appeals against the ban.
Paris Police Chief Didier Lallement said the authorities had dozens of tow trucks at their disposal that would help “Put an end to all blockages” Speaking to France 2 TV on Friday, Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the French government would be “Very solid” should the protesters “If they are trying to stop traffic,” Castex added that while the “Constitutionally, the right to protest and the right to voice an opinion is guaranteed to all citizens of our republic.” that right does not apply to blocking traffic.
The protesters insist they did not intend to obstruct the roads, and were merely planning to join Saturday’s anti-mandate protest. France 24 heard from one protester that the order violated their rights to demonstrate.
They modeled their protest on the Canadian truckers, who protested against the vaccine mandates in Ottawa for almost two weeks. Hundreds of people came from Lille, Strasbourg and Chateaubourg to set out for Paris with hundreds of motorhomes and vans. It is believed that there are 3,300 participating vehicles.
Paris braces for ‘Freedom Convoy’ (VIDEOS)
They are asking the French government not to issue vaccine passes to people who want access to public areas. Protesters are also discussing rising energy costs.
Speaking to Ouest-France newspaper on Friday, President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged there was “Fatigue” over the Covid restrictions. Macron said he “Respected and understood” the anger felt by some sections of society, but called on his fellow countrymen and women to exercise the “Absolute calm.”
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