France: Bag of small tomatoes causes scare at Macron event

PARIS (AP) — Newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron narrowly avoided being pelted by what looked like a small sackful of cherry tomatoes Wednesday as he waded through a boisterous and packed crowd in a market northwest of Paris.

About six of the small fruits, some orange, some red, contained in what looked like a blue plastic bag, flew over the head of the French leader and bounced off the shoulder and arm of two men beside him, according to broadcaster BFM-TV’s video.

Macron, a 44-year-old centrist, seemed oblivious to the near-miss until someone in the crowd shouted “projectile” and bodyguards raised arms over the French leader’s head to cover him.

Someone then unfurled a partly broken black umbrella to shield him, and his security detail steered him to cover under a nearby market-stall parasol. The president sheltered there for a few moments until things calmed down.

It was unclear whether Macron, who was making his first public appearance since his reelection on Sunday, was the target of the little tomatoes. The high level of excitement as he shook hands and talked to people in the cheering crowd for some two hours was unusual.

Another snippet of video, shot from a different angle just after the tomatoes were thrown, showed a bystander clambering onto a table or another object and hurling himself backward in the direction of the gaggle of people around Macron.

The man appeared to throw a wayward punch as he flew through the air. There were screams as he landed hard on the crowd and then hit the ground.

Macron, ostensibly unharmed and unperturbed, then happily continued his walkabout in Cergy-Pontoise, mingling and talking to people at the market while earnestly campaigning ahead of France’s June legislative election.

He told reporters he visited the working-class neighborhood as part of his previously stated pledge to unite France after the bruising presidential campaign.

Macron comfortably beat far-right rival Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s election runoff and is now looking to maintain his party’s majority in the lower house of parliament.