Rampages, looting, arson and law enforcement targets … back on a day of tension.
The Paris parade was peppered with violence: scenes of chaos, shops looted and burned, barricades on fire. More than 200 people were arrested.
This “Act XVIII” is described as crucial and presented as an “ultimatum” to Emmanuel Macron, at the end of the Great National Debate. Protesters were expected to converge on the capital. And Paris was the scene of very violent scenes.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 32,300 Yellow Vests paraded in the streets of France this Saturday. These are 3,700 protesters more than last week.
144 people were placed in custody in the capital according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. The Prefecture of Police counts 237 arrests after the violence which enamelled the demonstration of Yellow Vests this Saturday. The authorities also count about sixty wounded: 17 police, a fireman and 42 demonstrators.
The first clashes erupted in the morning in Paris, on the Champs-Elysees. Many shops were looted and burned, and restaurants, like the famous Fouquet’s, were also targeted. The police used tear gas and water cannons against several hundred Yellow Vests. Several processions were also found at the Place de l’Etoile “with a grip of the forces of order”.
Maddy Scheurer said that “the individuals who are making the Yellow Vest demonstration degenerate are obviously not” Yellow Vests “, they are more like ultra-rovers for other reasons.”
The police prefecture spoke this Saturday of “several unreported rallies and processions”. She explained that she was confronted with “determined individuals, thugs who commit violence and attack urban furniture”. About 5,000 members of the police and six armored gendarmes were deployed in the capital.
For several hours, the thugs have systematically attacked the shops along the avenue Parisienne. The Lacoste and Hugo Boss clothing brands, the Bulgari and Swarovski luxury jewelery stores, the Longchamp leather goods store, the Foot Locker shoe store, the Disney store, the PSG store, a telephony store, a Belgian chocolatier, a Optics store … Nothing was spared. The thugs have often managed to enter these shops, looting for some, most of them ransacking.
The famous brasserie Le Fouquet’s, frequented by many personalities and “symbol of capitalism” for the demonstrators, was completely vandalized at midday. Two hours later, the restaurant was again targeted, and the canvas of his canopy burned. Several newsstands have also been totally burned.
In the early afternoon, a bank located Roosevelt Boulevard, near the Champs-Elysees, in turn was the target of incendiary devices. But the fire spread to the floors of the building. A woman and her baby were stuck on the second floor, “said firefighters, who managed to evacuate them.
The police forces protecting the Champs-Elysees suffered for several hours a shower of projectiles, cobblestones, stones, urban equipment. They responded by drowning the avenue in tear gas clouds, and attempted to pull back the thugs with water cannons and defense bullets (LBD).
Four months after the beginning of the movement and at the end of the great national debate, this day was presented as an “ultimatum” to President Macron, who announced in the evening shorten his stay in the Pyrenees where he had left ” to rejuvenate “after his tour of Africa. He will go to 22:30 to the crisis cell at the Ministry of the Interior in Beauvau.
After first coming to the Champs-Élysées in the middle of the afternoon with the Prime Minister, Christophe Castaner, Minister of the Interior, went near the Arc de Triomphe shortly before 8 pm. As he had done earlier with Édouard Philippe, he greeted the police and firefighters and thanked them. A group of several protesters then approached by oying him. “It is not because a few dozen assassins come to threaten us that we will leave,” he retorted. A term also used by Edward Philippe, who promised a “total firmness” against the thugs.
That’s what our police and gendarmes received throughout the day.
Tonight, I came to express my confidence and my unwavering support, at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, that they bravely defended against an outburst of violence, hate, stupidity. pic.twitter.com/Jk5N9BNrSP
– Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) 16 mars 2019
PS Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo condemned “with the greatest firmness” these “unbearable exactions”, while François-Xavier Bellamy, top of the list of the Republicans to the Europeans, called to “put an end to the impotence of the State “.
Marine Le Pen condemned “the Black Blocks” which “destroy, burn, always violate with impunity”. Hoping for a “renewed mobilization,” this day of action had been announced as crucial after several weeks of half-hearted.
At the same time, tens of thousands of climate protesters marched peacefully through France at the call of the “March of the Century”. In Paris the insubordant deputy of the Somme François Ruffin pleaded for a “junction” between “yellow vests” and environmental defenders.