France to deploy troops to maintain security during planned weekend protests – Macron
20 Mar, 2019
Soldiers will be deployed across France to help maintain security during this weekend’s planned Yellow Vest protests, President Emmanuel Macron has said. The military will secure government buildings and other sites to allow police forces to focus on maintaining public order, the president said, according to comments reported on Wednesday by government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. About 7,000 soldiers, most armed with automatic weapons, are already deployed across the country in what the military calls Operation Sentinel, which was created to protect sensitive sites following deadly attacks in 2015, AP reported. On Monday, the French government announced new security measures and a ban on Yellow Vest protests along the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris and in two other cities, following riots on Saturday.
Macron to deploy French army against “yellow vest” protests
By Anthony Torres
21 March 2019
After Wednesday’s meeting of the council of ministers, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux announced that President Emmanuel Macron would activate army units during this weekend’s “yellow vest” protests. This is the first time since the 1954–1962 war in Algeria that the army is to be mobilized in police operations on French soil against the population.
Griveaux announced that the operation would have the task of “securing fixed and static points in conformity with their mission, that is to say principally the protection of official buildings.” He justified his recourse to the armed forces by claiming this was necessary to allow the police forces to “concentrate on protest movements and on the maintenance and re-establishment of public order.”
Today, Defense Minister Florence Parly is slated to meet representatives of the police forces in the late afternoon to discuss operational details on the upcoming deployment this Saturday.
Unanswered questions on French police role in Saturday “yellow vest” clashes
By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier
21 March 2019
The escalation of repression by the Macron government after Saturday’s clashes with protesters on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, during the 18th weekly “yellow vest” protests, raises the most serious questions as to the government’s role. No evidence has been provided that the violence was caused by “yellow Vest” protesters. But the Élysée is seeking to tear up the right to protest on the basis of these murky events, which sections of the state apparatus itself have attributed to far-right forces.
On Monday, the government announced that protests could be banned in areas where violence had previously occurred, if police declare that “extreme elements” could be present among the protesters. But it is precisely the question of the police’s own role that is raised by Saturday’s events, which saw numerous buildings set on fire, notably Fouquet’s restaurant.
The police, which were filmed ransacking the merchandise store of the Paris Saint-Germain football club, are now threatening the “yellow vests” with a major escalation of violence. Frédéric Lagache, the general secretary of the Alliance police union which is tied to neo-fascists, called for the injuring of demonstrators: “We should be willing to clash with them and maybe cause some injuries. We’re not going up against choir-boys.”