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Security headache as Yellow Vest protesters vow to march on Champs-Élysées

Benoit Tessier, Reuters | A protester wearing a yellow vest, the symbol of the French drivers' protest against higher fuel prices, gestures during clashes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, November 24, 2018.

Yellow Vest protesters are calling for a large rally on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris on December 1, despite the government’s attempt to defuse their anger by offering to meet some of the movement’s self-declared representatives.

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French police is considering the possibility of completely shutting down the famous Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris on Saturday December 1 as Yellow Vest protesters called for another rally in this iconic district, Le Parisien newspaper reported on Thursday.

This plan would mobilise a large number of police forces because there are several side streets leading to the 1.91 kilometres avenue. It would also deal a hard blow to some 110 shops that would lose a key pre-Christmas weekend of shopping.

Another option being considered would be to set up checkpoints to prevent protesters from reaching the Champs-Élysées, while letting shoppers and tourists enter the area.

Support for Yellow Vests still growing despite damages

These security planning headaches come as French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe is set to meet the protesters’ representatives early in the afternoon on Friday. The meeting is complicated to organise because the Yellow Vest rebellion is a grassroots movement that emerged through social media, without any undisputable leaders.

Philippe said on BFM television Wednesday that the protesters were expressing "a lot of legitimate things that should be heard", in stark contrast to earlier comments from members of his government who described the Yellow Vests as a movement infiltrated by far-right radicals.

Despite last week’s clashes on the Champs-Élysées, public support for the Yellow Vests is growing, with three-quarters of people backing the movement, according to an Elabe poll published on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

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