French riot police (CRS) are alleged to have begun deploying assault rifles with live ammunition for the first time during the ninth weekend of protest in a row by the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement.
French officers were caught on video brandishing what appeared to be Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifles on the streets of the French capital near the Arc de Triomphe on Saturday, the Daily Mail reports.
— Anonyme Citoyen (@AnonymeCitoyen) January 12, 2019
Several users on Twitter posted other pictures of officers armed with rifles, with one user claiming he had counted at least a dozen armed officers at around 3 p.m. near the famous monument.
Only a week prior to the “Act IX” protest, former French Minister of Education Luc Ferry had seemingly endorsed the use of live ammunition on Yellow Vest protestors in an interview with French media.
“When you see guys beating up an unfortunate policeman on the ground, let them use their weapons once and for all, that’s enough, these kinds of thugs, these bastards of far right and extreme left or the suburbs that come to beat police officers, we have the fourth-largest army in the world, it is capable of putting an end to this crap,” he said.
France: Interior Ministry Estimates 32,000 Yellow Vests Protesting, Over 100 Arrests https://t.co/dniehkmqaj
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 12, 2019
Ferry later clarified his statement, saying: “I have obviously never called to shoot the Yellow Vests of which I defended the movement from the beginning. I am simply asking that the police be able to use their NON-lethal weapons… when some people are trying to kill them.”
Yellow Vest activist Gilles Caron commented on the display of the weapons by the officers, saying: “[T]he CRS with the guns were wearing riot control helmets and body armour – they were not a specialised firearms unit.”
He added: “Their job was simply to threaten us with lethal weapons in a manner which is very troubling. We deserve some explanations.”