Emmanuel Macron has condemned the Paris carnage and vowed to bring the rioters to justice, as France faces a state of emergency and calls to send in the army.
Violent protesters occupied the centre of Paris yesterday and torched cars, smashed windows with clubs and axes and clashed with riot police firing tear gas and water cannon on the Champs-Elysees, in France’s worst urban rioting in more than a decade.
The ‘yellow vest’ protests, which began as a rebellion against a fuel tax hike but have expanded into weeks of civil unrest, spread across the country yesterday and ended with 133 people injured, including 23 police officers, and 412 arrested last night.
Today Macron visited the Arc de Triomphe – which was desecrated by protesters with messages calling for him to resign – as the French government said it would consider imposing a state of emergency to end the violence.
Macron, who visited Saturday’s battleground as soon as he returned from the G20 in Argentina, will hold a crisis meeting today with his prime minister and interior minister in a bid to quell the challenge to his presidency.
Images showed the inside of the Arc de Triomphe ransacked, with a statue of Marianne – a symbol of the French republic – smashed and graffiti sprawled on the exterior.
Under heavy security, the French leader spoke with police and firefighters on one of the avenues near the Champs-Elysees, with some yellow-jacketed protesters nearby shouting: ‘Macron resign!’
As the clean-up began today workmen cleared away burnt hulks of cars, scrubbed the defaced Arc de Triomphe and replaced the shattered windows of luxury boutiques in Paris.
A government spokesman said it was ‘out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence’ after a second consecutive Saturday ended in violent carnage in Paris. There were some reports of further protests planned today although the previous
A state of emergency would allow extra powers to the forces of law and order, ranging from stop-and-searches to carrying out raids on the homes of suspected rioters, amid calls for the army to be called in.
The Arc de Triomphe itself was among hundreds of buildings attacked by the protesters on Saturday as the Champs-Elysees was reduced to a warzone in the centre of the French capital.