The Latest: ‘Yellow vest’ members meet with French PM
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the protests in France (all times local):
Seven members of the “yellow vest” movement say they are satisfied after their meeting with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on the eve of anti-government protests that authorities fear could turn violent.
One of the participants to the meeting, Christophe Chalancon, told reporters the delegation of protesters called for measures aimed at improving the workers’ salaries and the purchasing power of the French. The prime minister “listened to us”, he said.
Another participant, Jacline Mouraud, said that “we are now waiting for the President (Emmanuel Macron) to speak.”
The meeting was presented by the government as an effort to achieve dialogue amid calls for nationwide demonstrations on Saturday, including in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron has met with anti-riot security officers who will be deployed Saturday in Paris as authorities fear new riots in the French capital.
Macron made the unannounced visit Friday night, without the press, to a fort used as military housing in Nogent-sur-Marne, east of Paris.
The president’s office said he met for one hour with about 60 officers who had been involved in last weekend’s security efforts in Paris as the city experienced the worst protest riot in decades.
Macron encouraged the officers and thanked them for their work.
A French government spokesman says members of the “yellow vest” movement will meet the prime minister on the eve of anti-government protests that authorities fear could turn violent.
Benjamin Griveaux says Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will listen to the protesters’ “questions” and “demands” Friday evening.
Griveaux says, “Our message is that we are listening to them.”
Benjamin Cauchy, a member of the “yellow vest” movement, confirmed on BFM television that he and other members will attend the meeting.
Last week, a planned meeting between Philippe and representatives of the movement collapsed amid threats from some demonstrators and after a request to broadcast the talks live was rejected.
The U.S. Embassy in Paris is again warning American citizens about the possibility of violence during renewed anti-government demonstrations expected Saturday in the French capital and elsewhere.
As it did last weekend and the weekend before that, the embassy is advising people to avoid the demonstrations. The advisory note warns that protests may once again become violent and that police may again respond with water cannons and tear gas.
The embassy note was dated Thursday.
The European handball federation has postponed two women’s European championship matches scheduled in France’s western city of Nantes because of Saturday’s anti-government protests.
Tournament organizers and the European federation say the Sweden vs. France and Serbia vs. Russia group games have been rescheduled to Sunday “due to planned demonstrations.”
The wave of protests has been playing havoc with the weekend’s sporting schedule. Six topflight soccer matches have also been postponed.
Unions representing French truckers have called off strike action following “a constructive meeting” with Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne.
Both the CGT and FO unions said their planned rolling strike that was scheduled to start from Sunday is not relevant anymore after the government decided to scrap a cut in overtime rates.
They however warned that “a tough conflict” could start anytime if the government and employers don’t “respect their commitments.”
Footage showing the brutal arrest of high school students protesting outside Paris is causing a stir ahead of further anti-government protests this weekend.
The footage, which has been shared widely on social media, has prompted trade unions and far-left parties to lash out at perceived police brutality.
The images, which were filmed Thursday at Mantes-la-Jolie, showed a group of students on their knees with their hands behind their head.
They are being watched over by armed police officers whose faces are hidden by ski masks. In one of the videos, a police officer can be heard saying: “Here is a class that behaves well.”
Interior minister Christophe Castaner said Friday that 151 people were arrested in the small town, adding that some of them carried weapons. He said none of the students were injured.
Students across France have joined the protests that have escalated over the past few weeks. They oppose an education reform and have clashed with police at many high schools in several French cities.
In an interview with Le Monde newspaper, CGT trade union secretary general Philippe Martinez said “You don’t beat up kids.”
Drastic security measures will put a lockdown on downtown Paris on Saturday as French authorities try to prevent another outbreak of violence during anti-government protests.
In addition to the 8,000 police forces that will be deployed in the French capital city, the Paris police prefect has identified 14 high-risk sectors that will be cleared out.
Fearing protesters could target street furniture or construction sites, Paris police will remove all the glass containers, railings and building machines set up in the identified sectors which include the Champs-Elysees avenue.
Across the country some 89,000 police will be mobilized, up from 65,000 last weekend, when more than 130 people were injured and over 400 were arrested in the worst street violence seen in the country in decades.