Saturday, September 21, 2019

Infiltrated or just.the violent arm of the environmental left

Paris climate march halted amid clashes between activists and police

Activists run through clouds of tear gasImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionActivists run through clouds of tear gas
A peaceful climate march in Paris has been halted after it was infiltrated by other protest groups. 
Groups of anarchist demonstrators joined in, breaking windows and setting fire to street barricades.
Families abandoned the march as violent clashes prompted French police, who have previously been accused of excessive violence, to fire tear gas and make over 100 arrests.
A huge security operation involved 7,000 police officers.
The climate change march gathered on the Champs ElyseesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe march was intended to be festive, family-friendly and peaceful
The climate change march and a protest against pension reform were both authorised, while other demonstrations - including one by the 'yellow vest' anti-government group - went ahead illegally. 
Much of the violence and vandalism was attributed to the so-called black bloc anarchist group, who wore black scarves, sunglasses and hoods to cover their faces. 
A yellow vest protester being arrested in ParisImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionYellow vest protesters wore black, abandoning the trademark hi-vis vests
The gilets jaunes (yellow vest) movement was sparked ten months ago by a hike in fuel prices and evolved into weekly anti-government protests that continued well into the spring.
Most of those protesting on Saturday did not wear the trademark fluorescent jackets, so they could avoid standing out.
A police officer in a stand-off with a protesterImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPolice have previously been accused of violence in their response to the yellow vest movement
As the violence worsened, police used tear gas to disperse groups of protesters. 
A video posted on Twitter shows climate change protesters covering their mouths as tear gas from further afield was carried to them by the wind.
Presentational white space
A protester wearing a prison outfit with a mask of President MacronImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionA lot of anger was targeted at President Macron from both sides of the protest
Greenpeace told climate change protesters to abandon the march as conditions were not appropriate for a non-violent protest. 
Media captionDramatic footage shows a police crackdown on Paris yellow vest protesters
Fire-fighters stand next to bins, rubbish and a bike on fire in the Paris streetsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionViolent protesters caused havoc on the streets
One of Saturday's protesters told French media outlet Le Monde that they continued to protest because of "injustice" but said they were worried about the "bad image" of the yellow vests.
"I am not a thug," the protester insisted. 
The yellow vest protests, which lost momentum over the summer, were often marred by violence, some of which was blamed on the black blocs. 
The protests earlier this year prompted Mr Macron to introduce reforms including tax cuts and a more decentralised government. 
A line of riot police firing tear gas at a protesterImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPolice were heavily decked out in riot gear
Saturday's protests interfered with France's annual Heritage Day, when well-known sites open their doors to the public. 
On Friday, President Macron said it was good that that people could express themselves but asked that the protests proceeded in a "calm" manner. 
He has not yet commented on Saturday's events. 
A protester suffering the after-effects of tear gas is assisted by a journalistImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionA protester suffering the after-effects of tear gas is assisted by a journalist
The front of the climate change marchImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe climate change protest started with a very different atmo

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