Some French citizens have recently emulated the Canadian Freedom Convoy by organizing a “Paris Freedom Convoy” in the nation’s capital. French President Emmanuel Macron has been sharply criticized for using armored police vehicles against the protesters.
Almost 100 of the convoy members were arrested by police as Macron deployed the military-style vehicles. The arrests came as protesters remained on the streets of Paris after a ban on assembly had been imposed.
Le Monde reported that at least 81 people remained in custody overnight, including one person described by police as a primary leader of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement. Politico has also reported that police have issued hundreds of fines to protestors.
It was also reported that at least one officer was being subjected to an internal police investigation after a video of a demonstrator suffering a head injury after being struck by police.
The backlash against Macron is similar to pushback from citizens in other European countries, especially as the recent footage in Paris shows officers beating protestors and breaking windows in private vehicles.
Marine Le Pen is a populist presidential candidate. She has accused Macron of using the photo opportunities involving the heavily armored police vehicles to publicize the beginning of his re-election campaign. She added that imagery of the crackdown on the protesters symbolically “resembles his mandate.” She went on to say that Macron’s five years in office have been marked by “chaos, disorder, conflict, division of the French people.”
Le Pen said that Macron’s vaccine pass is “useless” and does nothing to stop the violation of individual freedoms.
Nathalie Arthaud is the Socialist presidential candidate, and she also praised the Paris Freedom Convoy protestors. She said she identified with the protestors speaking against soaring gas prices and low wages. Arthaud added that it is “good to hear about the problems of the working classes.”
Populist presidential candidate Éric Zemmour said that Macron had mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic personally. He said that vaccine passes must be abolished and said that proper measures should be taken before the epidemic “becomes endemic.”
Other nations, including the US, have seen truckers discuss the possibility of freedom convoys in the coming weeks as people worldwide are growing weary of government overreach in the name of COVID-19.