France braces for more riots
Authorities across France braced Thursday for the possibility of more riots and violence at anti-government protests this weekend, holding emergency meetings and deploying tens of thousands of police and security forces. Museums, theaters and shops in Paris announced they would close Saturday as a precaution – including the city’s famed Eiffel Tower.
Police unions and city authorities met to strategize on how to handle the protests Saturday, which are taking place even though French President Emmanuel Macron surrendered Wednesday night and cancelled a fuel tax hike that had unleashed weeks of unrest.
On the other side of France’s volatile social debate, disparate groups of protesters did the same thing, sharing their weekend plans on social networks and chat groups.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told senators Thursday that the government will deploy “exceptional” security measures for the protests in Paris and elsewhere.
Speaking on TF1 television, Philippe said 89,000 police officers will be deployed Saturday across France – up from 65,000 last weekend.
In Paris alone, 8,000 police officers will be mobilized. They will be equipped with a dozen armored vehicles – a first in a French urban area since 2005.
Some “yellow vest” protesters, French union officials and prominent politicians across the political spectrum called for calm Thursday after the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend.