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France: “Yellow vest” protests to take place nationwide March 23 /update 3

“Yellow vest” protests planned across France on March 23, including in Paris; heightened security presence and localized disruptions expected near demonstration sites

22 mars 12h42 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 21/3/2019, 12h00 until 25/3/2019, 11h59 (Europe/Paris). COUNTRY/REGION France, Paris, Lille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice
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Event

"Yellow vest" protesters have announced demonstrations across France scheduled for Saturday, March 23. Rallies are expected at various locations throughout the capital, Paris, including at the Trocadéro at 08:00 (local time), at Place du Marechal Juin at 10:00, at Châtelet-les-Halles at 10:00, and at Place de la République at 14:00. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that protesters may descend on the Palais de l'Elysée, although the time of the gathering is unclear.

Additionally, a march is scheduled to start at 11:00 (local time) from the Arc de Triomphe to the Jardins de la butte Montmartre Sacré Coeur via Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, Rue de Courcelles, Boulevard Haussmann, Rue Lafayette, Boulevard de Magenta, Boulevard de Rochechouart, and Rue Livingstone. Organizers have indicated that if security forces preemptively block the Champs-Elysées, the march will start at Denfert-Rochereau. Further protests are expected in multiple Paris suburbs, especially in Meaux and Nemours.

Associated demonstrations are planned in other French cities on Saturday, including: Lille at Place de la République at 12:00; Toulouse at Allée Jean Jaurès at 13:30; Lyon at Place Bellecour at 14:00; Bordeaux at Place de la Bourse at 14:00; and Montpellier at Place de la Comédie at 14:00.

In response to previous yellow vest protests and to avoid further acts of violence and vandalism, the French government decided to deploy troops involved in the counter-terrorism Operation Sentinelle to protect sensitive locations and government buildings during the protests. In Nice, movement in the city will be subject to restrictions, including in the vicinity of the airport, the city center, and the Promenade des Anglais. Security forces are also expected to block the access to Place du Capitole in Toulouse and to Place Pey-Berland in Bordeaux to prevent vandalism.

Additional "yellow vest" protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays. A heightened security presence is anticipated near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely near protest sites, and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.

Context

The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax. It has since grown to encompass a number of popular grievances against the French government; some protests have turned violent and acts of vandalism and looting have been reported, although the scale of the protests has diminished since their height in December. However, the latest protests on March 16 were marked by some 1500 rioters who sought to create unrest, according to law enforcement and government officials, some of them reportedly breaking storefront windows and committing further acts of violence and vandalism.

Demonstrations have continued despite French government proposals to address protesters concerns.

Advice

Individuals in France are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, budget extra time to reach their destinations if traveling through areas affected by demonstrations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.

 

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