French police warned Thursday that they would prevent so-called “freedom convoys” from blocking roads in Paris, ahead of a possible standoff with protesters inspired by Canadian truckers.
Convoys of vehicles from across France are expected to converge on the French capital on Friday, with anger over coronavirus restrictions high on their agenda as well as concerns over the rising cost of living due to high energy prices.
The French movement is reminiscent of the “yellow vest” protests against social inequality that rocked the country in 2018 and brought France to a partial standstill at weekends. A repeat of the “yellow vests” would be highly unwelcome for President Emmanuel Macron as he prepares for April 2022 elections.
“There will be a special deployment… to prevent blockages of major roads, issue tickets and arrest those who infringe on this protest ban,” the Paris police force said in a statement.
Police chief Didier Lallement had “ordered officers to be rigorous” with infringers, it added. The city’s ban order will remain in force from Friday to Monday, while police recalled that people blocking roads faced up to two years in prison, a fine of 4,500 euros ($5,140) and a three-year exclusion from driving.
Belgian authorities recently confirmed they would also ban freedom convoys amid warnings motorists will descend on the city on Monday. “Means are being put in place to prevent the blocking of the Brussels-Capital Region,” the mayor of the Belgian capital, Philippe Close, said on Twitter.
Despite the ban, organisers of the convoy have indicated that they will continue their journey to force a confrontation with the authorities.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DW.COM