France 24 TV: “France mobilised thousands of police, armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks in Paris on Friday to keep out convoys of motorists.”
Inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy, thousands of motorists from across France are converging on Paris to demonstrate against government’s coronavirus restrictions. Up to 2000 vehicles could be part of the convoy that intents to defy the police ban and enter the capital, French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday.
The French police have banned the convoy from entering the city, news reports say. The Paris-bound convoy is expected to face tough police response. Some 7,200 police officers will be on duty in Paris to enforce the ban, French media reported.
“Thousands of opponents of the [COVID] vaccine pass, who came in convoys from all over France, camped on Saturday morning at the gates of Paris where they intend to enter in order to demonstrate despite the ban placed by the police headquarters,” French newspaper Le Figaro reported.
The French Freedom Convey has galvanized support from across the country. The “opponents of the government set off from Bayonne, Perpignan, Lyon, Lille and Strasbourg aimed at converging on the capital,” Le Figaro noted.
The media footage shows people waving French, Canadian and U.S. flags, and cheering the passing convoy with the chants of “liberté.”
The state-owned TV network France 24 reported the government’s response to the Freedom Convoy:
France mobilised thousands of police, armoured personnel carriers and water cannon trucks in Paris on Friday to keep out convoys of motorists converging on the capital for a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
Checkpoints were set up at toll points on major entry roads while riot-control barriers were erected across the city centre ahead of rallies that the protesters aim to hold over the weekend.
Inspired by horn-blaring “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in Canada, the motorists – from numerous cities across France – were expected to gather outside Paris during Friday and seek to defy a police order not to enter the city. (…)
As the evening rush hour got under way, police began checking drivers’ documents at various entry points into the city centre. More than 7,000 officers will be mobilised over the next 72 hours.
Convoy members exchanged information via social media on how best to slip into the city, avoiding a police presence that included heavy-lifting equipment to dismantle any makeshift roadblocks.
The Canadian-style protest movement is on the move just weeks after the French parliament passed more restrictive vaccine regulations. The so-called “Vaccine Passport” rules bar people from entering cafes, restaurants, trains, and other public venues if they don’t take COVID vaccinations.
The movement has also spilled over to neighboring Belgium, where the government has banned the Freedom Convoy from entering Brussels, the city which serves as the capital of the country and that of the European Union.
The convoy reaches Paris as France is heading towards a presidential election in two months time. President Emmanuel Macron, who is running for a second, faces tough challenge from the right.
According to the latest poll numbers published by Politico, President Macron is polling at 25 percent, following by right-wing candidates Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour, who are at 17 ad 14 percent respectively.
[Excerpts from French news reports translated by the author]DONATE
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