Police in Paris have deployed barricades, heavy equipment, and armoured vehicles as a Canada-style freedom convoy is set to descend on the city on Friday evening.
Earlier this week the prefecture of Paris warned that protesters in the anti-lockdown convoy heading to the French capital will be barred from entering. Those found to be blocking roads are facing up to two years in prison and heavy fines, as well as having their driving licences revoked, police have warned, in an unambiguous message to those who would dare protest against lockdowns.
Taking what appears to be a war-like footing, Parisian police have been filmed deploying armoured cars and setting up barricades in an apparent attempt to block the convoy from entering sections of the city, and even have taken to social media themselves to show off the equipment they have at their disposal to clear the streets. Again, the display of specialist trucks capable of towing large trucks, picking up cars, and clearing barricades appear an outright warning.
— Clément Lanot (@ClementLanot) February 11, 2022
— Amar Taoualit (@TaoualitAmar) February 11, 2022
On social media, the Prefecture Police of Paris said that nearly 7,200 police and gendarmes will be deployed during the next three days to “enforce the bans on vehicle convoys.”
The police force has also shared images of tow trucks and “anti-barricade tractors” that will presumably be used to forcefully break up the convoy.
— Préfecture de Police (@prefpolice) February 11, 2022
“If people want to demonstrate normally, they can do it. If they want to block traffic, we will intervene,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday evening.
Undeterred, one of the participants said: “We’re going to manage. But we’re going to go, we’re determined anyway, but without aggression… We’re together, it’s beautiful!”
France has seen months of protests against the lockdown measures, however, the Emmanuel Macron government has proceeded nonetheless, introducing a full vaccine passport last month.
Un des convois parti du Sud de la France est arrivé à Issoudun dans l'Indre. Des convois sont partis ce matin de plusieurs villes de l'Ouest, du Nord et l'Est de la France pour converger sur Paris. #ConvoidelaLiberte #convoisdelaliberte #ConvoiFrance2022 pic.twitter.com/inpmaIPSYR
— Anonyme Citoyen (@AnonymeCitoyen) February 11, 2022
One of the organisers of the protest said that the aims of the convoy will include the “withdrawal” of the vaccine passport system and “all coercion or pressure measures related to vaccination”.
“We demonstrated, and we can continue, but we see that it only leads to confrontation, repression and violence. We want to try something else, and see what the government’s response will be to pacifist and joyful people.”
According to the newspaper Le Figaro, upwards of 900 vehicles are on their way to Paris to join the convoy despite the government ban.
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