Today, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, held emergency discussions with advisors after he rushed back from Argentina to the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday. It comes after some rioters trashed the iconic monument during the protest that occurred this weekend.
TV footage that was released on Sunday exposed the inside of the Arc de Triomphe bearing the scars of the violence during the protest in Paris. The statue of Marianne, who symbolises the French Republic, was smashed.
Reuters reported that some anti-capitalist statements and demands for the resignation of the president were graffitied on the outside of the monument.
The city of Paris has been irked with civil unrest in recent days. It started on the 17th of November with the so-called gilets jaunes (yellow vests). The group demands a reversal of the recent hikes to fuel tax.
Shop windows smashed, buildings were vandalised, and some cars were reportedly burnt out, throughout the weekend. It prompted the police to use tear gas, water cannons, and stun grenades as they attempt to stop the violence. The police said that they had arrested over 400 people in Paris, while 133 people are reportedly injured.
Benjamin Griveaux, the government spokesperson, said that as the French President returned from the G20 summit that was held in Buenos Aires, he inspected the damage and has scheduled to meet with the prime minister and interior minister to talk about the ways to prevent further rioting.
Griveaux confirmed one of the possible options would be to impose a state of emergency which gives the president additional powers to deploy armed guards in public spaces and enable the police to search homes even in the absence of a warrant.
The last state of emergency only was only lifted a year ago. It comes after five extensions following the Paris attacks in 2015, in which approximately 130 people were killed by terrorists.
In an interview with Europe 1 radio, Griveaux stated: “We have to think about measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again.”
Reportedly, the government is happy to initiate a dialogue with the protesters, however, it said that it will not reverse its policies, which are intended to encourage the motorists to drive more fuel-efficient cars in an attempt to fight climate change.
He added: “It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence.”
Griveaux prompted the protesters to come to the negotiating table and said that the yellow vest movement should disassociate itself from radical, anti-capitalist groups which have reportedly started the violence.
The government continues to be defiant regarding the topic of the fuel tax hikes. Griveaux stated: “We won’t change course. It’s the right direction. We are certain of that.”
A source from the Elysee Palace later claimed that a state of emergency was not discussed. According to Reuters, however, the discussions focused on adapting security for any future protests.
The protests have spread across the country. People are reportedly blocking roads and denying access to factories, fuel depots, and shopping malls.