Police fired tear gas at protesters who hurled projectiles at them in Paris as a largely peaceful human chain of several thousand formed nearby to urge action on global warming ahead of the global environment summit.
A small group, some masked, took part in the violence, with some of them chanting: “State of emergency, police state, you will not deprive us of our right to demonstrate.”
French CRS riot police apprehend a demonstrator Photo: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
One young man who gave his name as Ricard shouted “shame on the Republic” at police in the square.
He told the Telegraph that several of his friends had been arrested.
“The government is using the state of emergency to clamp down on environmental activists,” he said, adding that his friends had been protesting peacefully.
Police arrested 280 people during the protest, taking many away in a bus while holding several more in a sort of pen, hemmed in between riot officers and police vans.
At least 24 activists have been placed under house arrest across France under the emergency powers to avoid provocations while Paris is hosting the climate conference.
Riot police move in in formation as tear gas is deployed in Paris Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP
There were running battles in Place de la République where earlier activists had placed hundreds of pairs of shoes in a symbolic protest after public demonstrations were banned by the government in the wake of the terror attacks on Friday, November 13, that killed 130 people.
Activists in France scaled back their plans for protests when the government imposed a state of emergency after the attacks, banning a planned demonstration in Paris that had been meant as the biggest of similar demos taking place around the world.
The human chain was an unofficial protest and police helicopters could be seen above the protest.
A tense stand-off continued throughout the afternoon, with hundreds of protesters remaining in the square as hundreds of police officers blocked the many avenues leading to it.
A shoe flies towards a demonstrator filming as protestors clash with riot police Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP
Police appeared to be planning to completely clear the Place de la République, which lies less than a mile from the sites of the deadly attacks on cafés and the Bataclan rock venue, at a later point.
Some people in the crowds that gathered around the blocked entrance points joined those inside with chants of “liberty” and “state of emergency, police state”.
The protest wound down late in the afternoon, leaving a handful of protesters in the square mingling with people come to lay flowers in honour of those killed in the Paris attacks.
A ring of riot policemen police encircled the statue in the middle of the square of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic which has become a shrine to the dead.
Security in Paris ahead of Monday’s climate change summit is tight with around 2,800 police and soldiers guarding the hermetically sealed conference venue near Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, while another 6,300 officers have been deployed.