After a ‘freedom convoy’ arriving in Paris protesting Covid-19 limitations, French police used tear gas to disperse protesters on the Champs Elysees.
Police checkpoints in downtown Paris were jammed with cars of protesters, creating a traffic jam near the Arc de Triomphe. Drivers defied a police order not to enter the city by waving French flags and honking their horns, inspired by “Freedom Convoy” rallies in Canada.
Protesters were ordered out of the Champs-Élysées roundabout by police while several climbed onto the roof of their vehicles in the center of the crossroads. At one point, police reported stopping 500 automobiles attempting to enter Paris, handing around 300 fines to drivers and passengers inside.
With less than two months left until the next presidential election, President Emmanuel Macron’s administration is desperate to prevent rallies from growing to the scale of the 2018 anti-government yellow vest protest movement.
To show their opposition to the compulsory vaccination card in France to enter restaurants and other public places, the demonstrators tried to force their way into Paris from all directions, saluting and honking the observers from the windows of their cars. Local routes instead of the main highway into town were used in attempts by some convoys to evade authorities on Friday.
Protesters held vigils, waving French flags and shouting “freedom” as they marched through the Canadian capital and across the border, spurred in part by the blocking of truckers. After months of protests in Paris and other cities against the French government’s vaccination laws, the French movement no longer has a leader or a goal.
The Yellow Vest movement against the fuel tax has blossomed into a much larger uprising that has resulted in some of the worst street violence in decades and tested Macron’s authority.
In Paris on Saturday afternoon, police authorized two street marches by anti-vaccine and yellow vest protesters. There was also a ‘freedom convoy’, which arrived in The Hague on Saturday morning and jammed the former parliament complex with dozens of trucks and other vehicles ranging from semi-trailers to a car with a caravan attached.
Anti-government protesters marched past trucks with a banner reading “Love and freedom, not tyranny.” Demonstrators were told by police to go to a nearby park, where the city had agreed to allow them to demonstrate, and the public was warned about traffic jams.