Ambulance workers hold flares outside the National Assembly in Paris, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. Ambulance workers took to the streets and gathered close to the National Assembly in downtown Paris to complain about changes to working conditions as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is holding crisis talks with representatives of major political parties in the wake of violent anti-government protests that have rocked Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Eiffel Tower to be closed as Paris braces for more protests

Since the unrest began on Nov. 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed

France was mobilizing tens of thousands of police officers and closing landmarks including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre as authorities warned that anti-government protests on Saturday could be even more violent than the ones that have crippled the country for weeks.

“According to the information we have, some radicalized and rebellious people will try to get mobilized tomorrow,” Interior minister Christophe Castaner told a press conference on Friday. “Some ultra-violent people want to take part.”

READ MORE: France bracing for more protests despite retreat on taxes

Authorities say 8,000 police will fan out across Paris, equipped with a dozen barricade-busting armoured vehicles that could be used for the first time in a French urban area since 2005.

“These vehicles can be very useful to protect buildings,” said Stanislas Gaudon, the head of police union Alliance. “And in case they set up barricades, we can quickly clear out the space and let our units progress.”

At the height of the festive shopping season, many Paris store owners were boarding up their shop fronts and have said they will remain shut Saturday for fear they may be in the line of any unrest between protesters and police.

Meanwhile, Paris police, fearing protesters could turn street furniture and construction site material into makeshift weapons, were removing all the glass containers, railings and building machines set up in high-risk areas including the world-renowned Champs-Elysees avenue, which would normally be packed with tourists and shoppers on a Saturday in early December.

The Nicolas wine chain, one of the biggest retailers in the country, cancelled all its wine tasting sessions scheduled for Saturday.

“It’s with an immense sadness that we’ll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said. “Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people.”

Across the country some 89,000 police will be mobilized, up from 65,000 last weekend when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested as protests degenerated into the worst street violence to hit Paris in decades.

Authorities also have cancelled six French league soccer matches around the country.

READ MORE: Trudeau avoids confrontation with Saudi crown prince, Putin during G20 summit

Since the unrest began on Nov. 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in accidents.

The protesters are collectively referred to as the “yellow vest” movement, in reference to the fluorescent safety outfit French motorists keep in their cars.

Amid the unrest, some of the protesters, French union officials and prominent politicians across the political spectrum have urged calm especially as French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike that triggered the movement. However, protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students.

Students opposing an education reform protested again Friday, a day after footage widely shared on social media showing the arrest of high school students protesting outside Paris prompted an outcry. Trade unions and far-left parties have lashed out at perceived police brutality.

The images, filmed Thursday at Mantes-la-Jolie, showed a group of students on their knees with their hands behind their head. They are being watched over by armed police officers whose faces are hidden by ski masks.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner said that 151 people were arrested in the small town, adding that some of them carried weapons. He said none of the students were injured.

The rioting has also had an economic impact at the height of the holiday shopping season. Rampaging groups last weekend threw cobblestones through Paris storefronts and looted valuables in some of the city’s richest neighbourhoods.

The national Federation of French markets said that Christmas markets have been “strongly impacted” and that its members registered “an average fall of their estimated figures between 30 and 40 per cent since the beginning of the movement of the yellow vests.”

In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across France, including the Louvre, Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, will keep their doors shut on Saturday for safety reasons.

“We need to protect culture sites in Paris but also everywhere in France,” Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton Museum and Archives prepares to reopen

Current exhibit explores the historical relationship between sports and military

RCMP, BC Coroners Service investigate drowning in Penticton

Incident occurred on afternoon of Aug. 11, 2020

Morning Start: Women can give birth after they die

Your morning start for Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020

COVID-19 outbreak at Oliver farm declared over

There continues to be other community exposure events in the Interior Health region

Penticton Community Centre prepares for reopening

The community centre will open Aug. 13 with many precautions in place

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

Summerland council to examine meeting options

Present livestreaming has been plagued with sound quality issues

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Floating concert to shake Shuswap Lake

Pair of bands booked to play floating concert at the Sea Store on Sept. 5

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

New yoga studio takes over West Kelowna Hot Box Yoga space

Perfect Balance Yoga and Fitness opened on July 6

Syrian from Shuswap witnesses devastation in Lebanon

‘Three, four, five minutes later, smoke covered the whole area…’

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Most Read