France braced for 'day of rage' protests

Laurie Garrett

France braced for 'day of rage' protests

The Eiffel Tower's operating company, SETE, said in a statement that it could not ensure the security of visitors.

"We can not take the risk when we know the threat", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio, adding that far-right and far-left agitators were planning to hijack rallies by "yellow vest" protesters in Paris.

The protesters are furious at rising costs of living blamed on high taxes, and accuse Mr Macron, a former investment banker, of favouring the rich with his policies.

Many businesses are being boarded up. "Some ultra-violent people want to take part".

Across France, 89,000 police officers will be on duty and armoured vehicles will be deployed in the capital, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced.

"These vehicles can be very useful to protect buildings", said Stanislas Gaudon, the head of police union Alliance. "And in case they set up barricades, we can quickly clear out the space and let our units progress".

Paris police asked dozens of shop and restaurant owners around the Champs Elysees and Bastille areas to close on Saturday and requested local authorities in 15 areas around the capital to remove anything in the streets that could be used as projectiles. Those included the renowned Champs-Elysees, which would normally be packed with tourists and shoppers.

"It's with an huge sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement. "Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people".

The U.S. Embassy has advised American travelers to avoid the demonstrations, particularly in areas of central Paris.

The seven "yellow vest" invited to the meeting said they were satisfied from the discussion.

Four people have died in accidents during the "yellow vest" protests and political leaders from across the spectrum have appealed for calm.

The "yellow vest" protests, named after the safety jackets worn by demonstrators, began on 17 November in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but have since grown into a wider movement against Emmanuel Macron in the biggest challenge of his presidency so far.

Aides to President Macron, a figure of hate for the movement, warned the public to expect more violence. Macron, since returning from the G-20 meeting last weekend, has kept largely out of sight, a move that has puzzled both supporters and critics.

Restoring the wealth tax has become a core demand of the "yellow vests", alongside the fuel tax rollback and an increase in the minimum wage.

High school students in France gathered at a square in Paris in "support" of marches on climate change and the "yellow vest" movement.

The footage, which has been shared widely on social media, has prompted trade unions and far-left parties to lash out at perceived police brutality.

The images, filmed Thursday at Mantes-la-Jolie, showed a group of students on their knees with their hands behind their head.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner said that 151 people were arrested in the small town, adding that some of them carried weapons.

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