On 29 June, violent confrontations in France continued for a third straight night, as tensions between protesters and police spiked. The demonstrations spread to Paris Intramuros (Paris proper), as well as Brussels and Belgium, where 64 people were arrested. Protesters attacked police stations, transportation infrastructure, and government offices across the country. Multiple commercial centers, shops, banks, and ATMs were looted and set alight. At least three police stations were burned down. Roughly 875 people were arrested overnight, of whom more than 307 were in the Paris prefecture. At least 249 police were injured by fireworks, Molotov cocktails, rocks, and other weapons. Violence will likely continue to escalate this weekend.
In Nanterre, after a march of remembrance for Nahel – the 17-year-old killed by a police officer on 27 June – confrontations between demonstrators and police in the suburbs resumed following established patterns. Protesters erected barricades and started fires before attacking the subsequent police intervention force.
In Paris proper, skirmishes broke out between groups of demonstrators and police in the 18th, 19th, and 1st arrondissements. Police stations in the 12th, 13th, and 14th arrondissements were subjected to coordinated attacks by organized groups of several dozen protesters. Several stores were looted in the 1st arrondissement in the Les Halles, Chatelet area. In the 18th arrondissement, protesters attempted to set up blockades in the Barbes area and launched fireworks and rocks at police in response to tear gas and rubber bullets.
In Drancy and other municipalities, protesters used vehicles to break into commercial areas or attack government buildings. Dozens of buses belonging to the RATP (the Paris rapid transit authority) have been destroyed as depots were set alight.
In addition to the CRS (riot police) and the BRAV-M (a controversial mobile reaction unit with a history of racism), the police have mobilized special counter-terror units, including the BRI (a counter-terror reaction force), RAID (a rapid reaction force akin to SWAT) and GIGN (a special unit of the Gendarmes). Videos are circulating of the BRI using armored personnel carriers to clear barricades and masked and hooded RAID officers were seen traveling in blacked-out SUVs. Macron has said that “additional means” will be deployed to restore order.
- Paris announced nightly shutdowns of all bus and tram services starting at 21:00. Nine of Paris’ 13 tramlines have been interrupted by the destruction of trams or other protest activity.
- Marseille has banned protests and announced nightly shutdowns of all public transportation services starting at 19:00.
- The TAN (public transport network for the Nantes region) has shut down indefinitely.
The following curfews have been declared:
- Calmart from 21:00 to 06:00 from Friday to Monday
- Compiègne from 22:00 to 06:00 for unattended minors (under 16)
Protests in the following municipalities are planned for 30 June at 20:00:
Angers: Hotel de Ville; Avignon: Place de l’Horloge; Bordeaux: Place de la Bourse; Bourges: Place Seracourt; Caen: Place du Théâtre; Clermont Ferrand: Place Jaude; Champigny sur Marne: in front of mayor's office; Dijon: Place Darcy; Grenoble: Place Verdun; La Roche-sur-Yon: In front of mayor's Office; Lille: Place de la République; Lyon: Place des Terreaux; Marseille: Vieux Port; Metz: Place de la République; Montpellier: Place de la Comédie; Nancy: Place Stanislas; Nantes: Préfecture; Nice: Place Massena; Rennes: Place Saint Anne; Rouen: Place; Générale De Gaulle; Saint Etienne: Place Jean Jaurès; Strasbourg: Place Kleber; Toulouse: Place du Capitole; Tours: Place Jean Jaurès.
- The militarized response of the state may serve to increase, rather than alleviate, tensions with a population that criticizes the police as being an occupying rather than a protecting force.
- The spread of the clashes to Paris proper is very likely to intensify this weekend.
- Historically, large protests are planned on Saturdays. If progressive civil society groups such as unions call for action in solidarity with the demonstrators, the resultant protests could strain police capacity.
- It is unlikely that any such protests would gain official approval, and the police response would likely be very aggressive. Historically, unsanctioned protests have a tendency to be more disruptive, enveloping wider areas.
- Severe disruptions to transportation, bank access, and other services are likely in the coming days if not weeks.
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