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10.12.2019 Europe

Tight security across France amid second wave of demonstrations

By RFI with Christina Okello
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
LISTEN DEC 10, 2019
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

For the second time in six days, the French government has deployed 6,000 police officers in Paris in anticipation of potential violence as fresh pensions protests got underway Tuesday. Stores and banks along the route of the main demonstration in the capital were boarded up in anticipation of targetted vandalism.

By 14.45 pm, Paris police had carried out over 1,700 preventive checks and arrested 11 people during a second nationwide strike against the government's pension reform plans.

Police ordered shops, bars and restaurants along the protest route starting at Les Invalides (Place Vauban) in the 7th arrondissement and ending at Denfert-Rochereau in the 11th, to shut down.

The measures are deemed necessary following last week's clashes in Paris and Nantes, which saw rioters smash windows and set vehicles on fire.

Police fear there may be more trouble on Tuesday from “casseurs,” or “breakers,” who have caused havoc in previous protests.

Some 6,000 officers have been deployed, the same amount as last week.

Lower turnout
However, early protest figures revealed that turnout this time round was lower than last Thursday's day of demonstrations, which saw more than 800,000 people take to the streets.

"There are less people in Paris," admitted Philippe Martinez, head of the left-leaning CGT-union, but "the mobilisation remains important and dissatisfaction is still high," he told AFP.

Dissatisfaction remains high also among the police, with unions warning of a "black day" of protest Wednesday as they urge officers to walk off the job to protect their pension rights.

Some police stations were already closed on Thursday 5 December, however unions now want officers to stop policing altogether.

"On Tuesday, we will oversee the second nationwide strike, but from Wednesday, we will stop enforcing law and order unless our demands are met," Yves Lefebvre, head of the SGP police union--the largest in France--told AFP.

On Wednesday, Prime minister Edouard Philippe is expected to unveil the details of the government's pensions reform plans.

He has already warned that there will be "no magic announcements that will stop the demonstrations."