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Paris police hold 81 over banned anti-vaccine convoy



Paris police said they have arrested 97 people who defied a ban on a Canada-style protest convoy over coronavirus regulations to try to block traffic in the capital, with 81 still in custody on Sunday.

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Thousands of protesters from across France tried to block traffic in the capital on Saturday in a self-proclaimed “freedom convoy” of cars, trucks and campers. Hundreds of them continued on Sunday to Brussels.

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In Paris, more than 100 vehicles managed to converge on the Champs-Elysees avenue, where police used tear gas to disperse protesters in scenes reminiscent of the 2018-2019 “yellow vest” riots.

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Dozens of people remained on the famous avenue and in the nearby Bois de Boulogne forest park until early Sunday morning.

Prosecutors said one of those detained was Jerome Rodrigues, a leader of the “yellow vests” protest movement, who engaged in battles with police every weekend for several months in late 2018 and early 2019.

The Paris police department also said an internal investigation was opened after a video surfaced on social media showing an officer hitting a protester in the head on the Champs-Élysées.

The protest is one of several around the world inspired by truckers’ confrontation with authorities in Canada.

In France, protesters targeted the “vaccination pass” required to enter restaurants, cafes and many other public places implemented as part of President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccination campaign.

“This Covid pass is just the latest in a series of measures against freedom in our country: we have freedom of movement in Europe, but the police stop us, we have no right to be here and carry a flag,” Daniel told AFP. Well done, 61 years old.

More than 400 vehicles camped out at various sites around Paris overnight, with organizers calling on people to head to Brussels for a big rally on Monday, a police source said.

However, not everyone is expected to make the trip, the source said.

Belgium banned the protest and its prime minister, Alexander de Croo, urged potential attendees to “go and protest in your own country.”

– ‘Fatigue’ and anger: The demonstrations, with convoys leaving from cities across France, come two months before presidential elections in which Macron is expected to seek re-election.

On Friday, Macron said he understood the “fatigue” after two years of the pandemic.

“This fatigue also leads to anger. I understand… But I ask for maximum calm, ”he told the Ouest-France newspaper.

The government has said it plans to relax face mask mandates by February 28 and hopes to end the vaccine approval requirement in late March or early April.

Some 24,000 more people demonstrated Saturday in other parts of the country, authorities said, including in the southern city of Montpellier, where radical activists smashed the glass facades of two banks.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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