Thousands of vehicles from all corners of France gathered in the French capital to protest the restrictions
Paris shielded itself this Saturday to receive the ‘freedom convoys’. Thousands of vehicles from all corners of France gathered in the French capital with the aim of “blocking Paris” to protest against health restrictions. From this city many will later travel to Brussels to participate this Sunday in a European protest.
This movement, in which anti-vaccines, ‘yellow vests’ and opponents of the covid passport participate, is inspired by the protests of Canadian truckers, who have blocked downtown Ottawa, after the Canadian government forced them to get vaccinated to cross border.
But, unlike the Canadian truckers, the French who participated in this motorized protest this Saturday did not travel to Paris in large trucks, but most of them did so in private cars, vans or caravans.
The Prefect of the Paris Police prohibited the entry to the capital of the ‘freedom convoys’ throughout the weekend, alleging “public order risks”. And he controlled all access to Paris. Some 7,200 police and gendarmes were deployed to “prevent blockades at the access doors and in different places in the capital,” explained the prefect.
“Thanks to the police and gendarmes mobilized throughout France, and especially in Paris, to enforce the republican order and freedom of movement,” Gérarld Darmanin, French Minister of the Interior, wrote on Twitter.
Fines and detainees
Police and protesters played cat and mouse all day. The vehicles dispersed upon arrival in the capital to mislead the agents. The police fined many drivers who participated in the protest. And they removed several cars with cranes, which were towed to the vehicle depot for blocking the passage.
The provisional balance of the day: 54 arrested and 337 fined, according to Darmanin. Among those detained was Jérôme Rodrigues, former leader of the ‘yellow vests’.
The prefect of Paris also ordered armored police vehicles to take to the streets, something that had not happened since the ‘yellow vests’ demonstrations at the end of 2018.
“Macron is the candidate who begins his campaign with armored cars,” criticized Marine Le Pen, a far-right candidate for the presidential elections in April. She lamented that the president “finished his term as he began it.” And she considered that the prime minister’s five-year term is “the mandate of chaos, disorder, conflict and division of the French.”
Despite police controls, some vehicles managed to access the center of the capital and reach the Champs-Elysées, the objective of many of them. Other drivers preferred to leave their cars on the outskirts of the city and access the center by public transport to avoid problems with the police, as Michel did, a French retiree from Burgundy who participated this Saturday in a Parisian protest against the covid passport.
“I have come because I fight for freedom,” he explained and said that he had not slept much last night and that it had been difficult for him to get to Paris because “there were police everywhere.” ‘No to a society of control’ and ‘Long live the refractory Gauls’, said the banners carried by this French retiree in the protest that toured the city.
“Sir, you are fined 135 euros for participating in a prohibited demonstration,” a policeman told René, a member of ‘the freedom convoys’ from Montpellier who was walking the Champs-Elysées this Saturday at noon with a flag french rolled up This retiree wanted to be “present in Paris” to “try to change things.”
Many of the protesters who participated this Saturday in the Parisian protests and in the ‘freedom convoys’ assured that they are not anti-vaccines, but rather are against the obligation to present the covid vaccination passport to be able to go to the bar, to the restaurant , to the cinema or to the museum in France.
Order to unblock the US-Canada border
The Canadian Police intervened firmly this Saturday to evict the protesters against the anticovid measures on the Ambassador Bridge, a border crossing between the US and Canada that is key for the automobile industry. The agents acted upon completion of the term granted by the Superior Court of Ontario to proceed with the unblocking.
The protest, which has lasted for weeks, has led the US government to urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take drastic measures in the face of the economic disturbances caused by the closure of the borders due to the protests. The Ambassador Bridge provides access to Detroit, one of the hubs of the American motor industry.
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