Mandate Protesters, Police Clash on Champs-Elysees

Demonstrators barred from Paris broke through city's defenses
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2022 11:23 AM CST
In Paris, Convoy Blocks Champs-Elysees
Police officers check a camper van driver Saturday on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.   (AP Photo/Adrienne Surprenant)

In the first significant European demonstration inspired by the anti-mandate truck convoy in Canada, protesters rolled into Paris on Saturday, blocking the Champs-Elysees until police were able to disperse them. Officers used tear gas and clashed with the protesters, who had violated a government order to stay out of the city and broken through defenses set up at the Champs-Elysees, the Washington Post reports. Bystanders in the central shopping district ducked into restaurants for safety. More than 7,000 police officers were waiting for the demonstrators, who were warned that violators faced a two-year prison sentence, a fine of more than $5,000, and the suspension of their driver's license.

Waving French flags from their vehicles, protesters were able to mostly block traffic around the Arc de Triomphe junction, per CNN. Police said at one point they'd kept 500 vehicles out of the city and issued more than 300 tickets. More than a dozen people were arrested by mid-afternoon. Regular, large protests of France's health pass were held last year but faded. Those events included people with varied causes, some protesting government restrictions and others espousing conspiracy theories. Polls show most people still back the pass, per the Post, though the government's handling of the pandemic has been losing support.

Other European cities dealt with similar protests or were preparing for them. Organizers of the Paris convoy planned to drive to Brussels, possibly arriving Monday. Officials also have barred the protesters from the Belgian capital. A demonstration Saturday stopped traffic in parts of the Hague. A senior French official had called the protest a "convoy of shame and selfishness," but President Emmanuel Macron conceded Friday that in some cases, the protesters might have a point. France's presidential election is in April. (Read more protests stories.)

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