‘Yellow Vest’ movement impacts festive season in France; Eiffel Tower to remain shut

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Yellow Vest Riots - France 2018

Dreadful unrests have begun in Paris, France since 17th November following a sharp increase in diesel taxes.

Four people have been killed in accidents, and nearly 130 people have been injured. The administration has increased the number of police personnels from 65,000 last weekend to 89,000 across the country. Around 400 people have been arrested in the worst street violence that France has witnessed over the decades. The protesters are collectively referred to as the “yellow vest” movement, in reference to the fluorescent safety outfit French motorists keep in their cars.

Looking at the gravity of the situation, the Eiffel Tower in Paris will be closed on Saturday as French authorities have tightened security to prevent another outbreak of violence. The protests against the government will be completing three weeks and in addition, 8,000 police forces will be deployed in the French capital. The Paris police prefect has also identified 14 high-risk sectors that will be cleared out.

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There could be a fear of protesters targeting street furniture or construction sites, and thus the Paris police has removed all the glass containers, railings and building machines set up in the identified sectors, which also include the world-renowned and glitzy Champs-Elysees avenue.

French President Emmanuel Macron has agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike that triggered the movement and appealed to the citizens to maintain their calm. However, protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues hurting French workers, retirees and students.

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Holiday shopping season has been highly impacted since rampaging groups threw cobblestones through Paris storefronts and looted valuables in some of the city’s richest neighborhoods last weekend. Christmas markets have been strongly hit and an average fall of estimated figures between 30 and 40 percent have been recorded since the beginning of the movement of the yellow vests.

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On Saturday, many shops and museums around the Eiffel Tower will remain close including the Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, for security reasons.

Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio that they needed to protect the culture sites not just in Paris but also everywhere in France. Since 2005, this is the first time police officers will be equipped with a dozen armored vehicles in a French urban area.

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Stanislas Gaudon, the head of police union Alliance said,

“These vehicles can be very useful to protect buildings. And in case they set up barricades, we can quickly clear out the space and let our units progress.”

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