Yellow Vest Protesters Mull Action After Terror Attack in France
(Bloomberg) -- Members of the grassroots Yellow Vests movement plan to protest in Paris and elsewhere in France on Saturday, even as security concerns mount following a terror attack in Strasbourg.
The government hasn’t decided whether to ban the protests, spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Thursday in an interview on C-News television. Griveaux added that security forces will be deployed regardless, since more radical elements of the movement “may take to the streets, pillage and destroy property.”
The Paris police will unveil plans by the end of Friday, a spokeswoman said in an email.
People across France have been pulling yellow vests from the trunks of their cars for more than a month to express a whole series of grievances. What began as traffic blockades has peaked in serious violence in Paris for the past two weekends. Yet the only thing the protesters really have in common is their contempt for President Emmanuel Macron. That lack of a single policy goal means that at least some protests are nearly certain to continue.
Police and military forces, who’ve also been deployed to address tensions in some high schools and universities, now have to add terrorism into the equation. French authorities have increased the national terror alert to its highest level after a man shot people in the streets of Strasbourg on Tuesday, killing three and wounding a dozen. The man, who is alleged to be an Islamic radical, was still on the run late Thursday.
“Law enforcement could be significantly distracted because of the recent terrorist attack," Ryan DeStefano, vice president of security for travel risk management provider On Call International, said in an emailed note. “In addition, protests provide an opportune time for radicals to engage in terrorist activities under the guise of peaceful protest.”
At least one union head, Laurent Berger of the CFDT union, called for a halt to the Yellow Vest demonstrations.
While some members of the Yellow Vests, named after the safety jacket required to be carried in each car, have decided to halt their protests, others remain unconvinced. In a press conference on Thursday, demonstrators from Montceau-les-Mines in eastern France said they would wouldn’t stop.
They found some support from both ends of France’s political spectrum. Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the leftist France Unbowed party said he was “surprised” the terror attack could be used to pressure those who want to demonstrate.
Yellow Vests are “not responsible for the terrorist risk,” Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally party, formerly known as the National Front, said, without making a specific reference to what followers of her movement should do on Saturday.
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