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Paris police banned a mass protest inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” of Canadian truckers, which was scheduled to take place this weekend in the French capital.
The idea of the demonstration, according to the organizers’ map, is to converge in Paris and Brussels after having departed from different points around the country.
Thousands of French nationals have joined what is now a huge protest of international scope spreading across much of Europe, seeking to challenge the rulers in their intentions to continue to impose restrictions on freedom due to the pandemic, such as vaccine and mask mandates, and vaccine passports.
According to reports, several groups of protesters set off from Nice, Bayonne and Perpignan in the south, aiming to reach Paris on Friday night. Convergence in Brussels is expected to be reached on Monday.
Police to shut down Freedom convoy and fine protesters
According to a statement issued by the police department, the ban on the event responds to the need to prevent protesters from “blocking the capital” before congregating for a larger protest in Brussels.
Authorities are preparing to “prevent roadblocks, issue fines and arrest those who violate this ban” from Friday until Monday.
“The organizer of a prohibited demonstration can be punished with six months in prison and a fine of €7,500,” reads the prefecture’s statement, clarifying that participants could be fined €135.
The document also reminds protesters that obstructing traffic can be punishable by a two-year prison sentence, a €4,500 fine, the seizure of vehicles or the suspension of driving licenses.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told a press conference Wednesday that the lifting of the vaccination passport in his country is expected “at the end of March, beginning of April,” and said he was aware of the general fatigue with the pandemic and the restrictions.
Attal said, without singling out any specific movement, that “often radical” political movements have sought to “capitalize” on popular dissatisfaction.