Thousands of opponents of the vaccine pass, who came in “freedom convoys” from all over France, converged on Paris on the morning of Saturday, February 12, to demonstrate despite the ban by the police headquarters. This heterogeneous gathering was formed on the model of the mobilization that paralyzes the Canadian capital Ottawa.
Hundreds of vehicles
Several thousand vehicles joined the Paris ring road around 10 a.m., where the police issued tickets – more than 200 by mid-morning – for “participation in an unauthorized demonstration”, according to the Paris police headquarters. In addition, a convoy of 450 vehicles was intercepted at Porte de Saint-Cloud.
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According to messages seen by AFP, some conveyors want to become “a mass of vehicles impossible to contain by the police unless they themselves block the main axes of the capital”. Dozens of vehicles arrived around noon near the Arc-de-Triomphe.
Nearly 7,200 police and gendarmes have been deployed “to enforce the bans on vehicle convoys”, according to the Paris police headquarters. The prefect of police Didier Lallement has “created a number of temporary pounds which (…) will allow with several dozen towing vehicles to put an end to any blockage”, did he declare. Gendarmerie armored vehicles were also deployed in the capital, a first since the demonstrations of the “yellow vests” end of 2018.
Prime Minister Jean Castex has promised to be inflexible in the face of the movement. “If they block traffic or if they try to block the capital, you have to be very firm”he insisted on France 2. “We are all collectively tired of what we have been going through for two years”for his part, said Friday, February 11, President Emmanuel Macron in a daily interview West France.
President Macron “calls for the greatest calm”
“This fatigue is expressed in several ways: by disarray in some, depression in others. We see a very strong mental suffering, among our young and old. And sometimes, this fatigue also translates into anger. I hear it and respect it”. ” Corn “he added, “I call for the greatest calm”.
The police had estimated Friday, February 11 at 3,300 the number of vehicles involved in the convoys. It’s an action “on a phenomenal scale”, told AFP a coordinator of the movement. The ban on gathering convoys was upheld on Friday evening by the Paris administrative court, which rejected two appeals.
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Two months before the presidential election, the demonstrators demand the withdrawal of the vaccination pass and defend claims on purchasing power or the cost of energy. The government says it plans to lift the vaccination pass by the end of March or the beginning of April and intends to abolish the wearing of a compulsory mask as of February 28 in places where the pass is required.
The rest of the movement remains uncertain as some participants hope to swell the ranks of the processions on Saturday February 12. Others then intend to join Brussels for a “European Convergence” scheduled for Monday, February 14. The Belgian authorities have already banned access to the capital.