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Macron may ban protests on the Champs-Elysees

(China Daily) -- French President Emmanuel Macron is considering banning all demonstrations on the Champs-Elysees after “yellow vest” rioters wrecked the iconic Parisian avenue last weekend, an official from the president’s office said on Monday, Reuters reported.
On Saturday, protesters affiliated with the “yellow vest” movement burned down the famous Fouquet’s restaurant on the Champs-Elysees as well as several newspaper stands, a Longchamp luxury goods shop and vehicles.
Following Saturday’s riots, which were reminiscent of violent clashes last December on the Champs-Elysees between protesters and police, Macron summoned a meeting with the interior and justice ministers on Monday.
Macron has promised to take “strong measures” as soon as possible to prevent riots from happening again next Saturday.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged on Sunday there had been security “flaws” that needed to be rectified.

An employee cleans a wall of graffiti after the “yellow vest” riot on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday in Paris.

Police estimated that 10,000 people joined the latest yellow vest protest in Paris and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said a hard core of about 1,500 was intent on causing trouble.
“We’ve got to be able to stop these people, I don’t know how, but that’s what we’ve asked the prime minister,” Jean-Noel Rheinhardt, who heads a committee representing businesses on the Champs Elysees, told BFM TV.
High-end boutiques along the Champs-Elysees remained closed and boarded up on Monday, some of them ransacked and charred from arson fires set by rioters.
Retailers have expressed dismay over the 18th consecutive weekend of potent anti-government rallies. Saturday’s turnout was characterised by a sharp uptick in violence after weeks of dwindling turnout, Agence France-Presse reported.
“It feels like this will never end,” said Emir Fatnassi whose shop front on the Champs-Elysees was smashed in by rioters.
“You can protest but why destroy everything? … Repairing the windows will cost at least 25,000 euros ($28,000), and an important part of merchandise is gone.”
Rioters also set fire to an upmarket handbag store and badly damaged Fouquet’s restaurant before setting fire to the famous brasserie’s canvas awning.
Two newsstands were burned to their metallic frames and in a nearby street a bank branch was set on fire, badly damaging the building and apartments above it.
“I’m not a tourist but if I were, I would be quite surprised if I arrived in Paris to find the Champs-Elysees in such condition,” a pensioner who only gave his name as Serge told Reuters TV.
“People often talk about the ‘City of Lights’, the ‘Fashion Capital’ and all that, but all you can see is destruction, rubbish, protests, burned kiosks,” he added.
The yellow vest movement emerged in November originally to oppose now abandoned fuel tax hikes and the high cost of living.
The protests quickly spiraled into a broader movement against Macron, his pro-business reforms and elitism in general.
The demonstrations, held every Saturday in Paris and other cities, have been generally getting smaller since December, when Paris saw some of the worst vandalism and looting in decades.

(Latest Update
March 20,

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