Protesters stand next to burning motorbikes and scooters during an anti-government demonstration called by the yellow vests. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
Police fire tear gas in clashes with yellow-vest protestors
Clashes broke out between dozens of demonstrators and police in Paris on the 23rd Saturday of yellow–vest protests after authorities warned that rioters could return to the French capital to spark a new wave of violence.
Dozens of hooded demonstrators threw rocks at police and some set fire to scooters and rubbish bins in the centre of the French capital, according to Reuters TV footage.
Police responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades. Some officers also marched toward demonstrators to control the crowd and funnel it to Paris’ Place de la République, where most of the demonstrators were contained in the late afternoon.
As of the 1pm local time, a total of 9,600 people were demonstrating across France, including 6,700 in Paris, the interior ministry said.
This is more than last week’s protest, which drew 7,500 demonstrators, but represents only a fraction of the record 282,000 estimated on November 17th, the first day of the protests.
As of 2pm, 110 people had been arrested and placed in custody, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Several demonstrators alluded to the catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday, which prompted an outpouring of national sorrow and a rush by wealthy families and corporations to pledge around €1 billion for its reconstruction.
“Millions for Notre Dame, what about for us, the poor?” read a sign worn by a demonstrator. “Everything for Notre Dame, nothing for the misérables,” read another sign that evoked Victor Hugo’s well-known novel.
The city was on high alert after Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said domestic intelligence services had informed him of a potential return of rioters intent on wreaking havoc in Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier and Bordeaux, in a repeat of violent protests which took place on March 16th.
Large portions of the Paris metro network were closed and about 60,000 police were deployed across France, authorities said.
Police also fired tear gas in the city of Toulouse, where thousands of people were demonstrating, including hundreds of motorcyclists holding a large banner asking for president Emmanuel Macron’s resignation.
There were about 1,500 to 2,000 people demonstrating in the streets of Bordeaux, according to a Reuters witness.
The yellow-vest protests erupted in mid-November 2018 over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living but spiralled into a broader movement against Mr Macron and his drive for economic reforms.
The French leader was due to unveil policies to quell the grassroots movement on Monday before the blaze at Notre Dame forced him to cancel the speech. He is now set to make his announcements next Thursday. – Reuters
France will hold a competition among international architects to design a new spire for the Notre Dame Cathedral after the one atop the famed church collapsed in this week’s fire, the country’s prime minister said.
Edouard Philippe said Wednesday that officials will consider whether the new spire should replicate the one that fell in Monday’s blaze or have its own original design.
“This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility,” Philippe said. “Should we rebuild the spire envisaged and built by Viollet-le-Duc under the same conditions … (or) give Notre Dame a new spire adapted to the technologies and the challenges of our times?”
The destroyed 300-foot spire was not an original piece on the medieval cathedral. It was designed and built by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc during his 19th-century restoration.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he wants to see the 12th-century cathedral rebuilt within five years, but experts in French Gothic architecture said it could take at least 10 years to rebuild.
‘A matter of life’: Why Notre Dame didn’t completely crumble in the blaze. And why it could take decades to repair.
Nearly $1 billion in donations have been pledged for reconstruction efforts. Engineers and historians are likely to put up a temporary roof to protect the cathedral from the elements, assess damage and salvage materials.
Structural engineers, stained-glass experts and stonemasons from across the globe are likely to head to Paris to help with restorations in the next few weeks.
How relics were saved: Paris Fire Brigade chaplain braved the blaze to rescue cathedral treasures
When Viollet-le-Duc restored the building, he “brought something to the character of Notre Dame,” said John J. Casbarian, dean emeritus at Rice University’s School of Architecture, who oversees the school’s program in Paris.
“He restored things in the spirit of the past, but he was also using more modern materials,” Casbarian said.
Stephen Murray, professor emeritus of medieval art history at Columbia University, worked on 3D scanning Notre Dame’s roof. He said he hopes the new roof is built with not only more fire-proofing but also an eye for architectural achievement.
“A great work of architecture does not just reflect the society it comes from,” Murray said. “It is a way for a group of people to project the future and who they are – their aspirations.”
Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard in Paris; The Associated Press
Trump’s real weak point seems to be tributes, with the 72-year-old’s attempts never failing to cause offence.
Last year he complained that he ‘didn’t get a thank you’ after Senator John McCain’s state funeral, and he marked the death of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, by announcing that she had worked for him on many occasions.
This week however it was Paris that fell victim to a Donald Trump tribute, following the news that one of France’s most famous landmarks, Notre Dame Cathedral, had caught fire.
The 850-year-old building is still standing, with the main structure and two bell towers reportedly saved, but its iconic spire and roof has collapsed, causing irreparable damage.
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.