- Officers were filmed brandishing weapons by Arc de Triomphe in Paris today
- Riot police were on crowd control duty today facing off a mob of Gilet Jaunes
- Rifles at demonstration by unarmed citizens show how Macron crisis intensifies
- Last week former conservative minster said live fire should be used on ‘thugs’
By Sophie Law
French riot police have deployed semi-automatic weapons with live ammunition against Yellow Vest protestors for the first time.
Officers were filmed brandishing Heckler & Koch G36 weapons by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday afternoon.
The presence of semi-automatic rifles at a demonstration by unarmed French citizens shows how President Emmanuel Macron’s law and order crisis spirals.
It comes after former conservative minister Luc Ferry called for live fire to be used against the ‘thugs’ from the Yellow Vest movement who he says ‘beat up police’.
Riot police were on crowd control duty today facing off a mob of Gilet Jaunes or Yellow Vests – named after the bright high-visibility clothing.
Live ammunition 30 cartridge magazines could be seen as officers marched the streets, although none were used as 5000 police were deployed on the streets of the French capital.
Yellow Vest protestor Gilles Caron said: ‘The CRS with the guns were wearing riot control helmets and body armour – they were not a specialised firearms unit.
‘Their job was simply to threaten us with lethal weapons in a manner which is very troubling. We deserve some explanations.’
The CRS are known for their tough approach to policing, frequently using distinctively wide-barrelled guns to fire flash-ball projectiles and tear gas canisters.
But until now, the guns used have mainly been associated with specialist military units, as well as the elite GIPN police intervention squads, and the BAC anti-criminal brigade.
A French National Police spokesman confirmed that the CRS were equipped with H&K G36s on Saturday, but would not discuss their operational use ‘for security reasons’.
A G36 was stolen from inside a police van during a similar Yellow Vest demonstration by the Arc de Triomphe on December 1.
A number of vehicles belonging to the 21stIntervention Company of the Paris Prefecture were stormed, suggesting that the theft was an opportunistic one during a day of intense violence, when the Arc de Triomphe itself was vandalised.
Last week, Luc Ferry, who was France’s education minister in the early 2000s, responded to a series of attacks on police by the Yellow Vests by calling for live fire against them.
Mr Ferry, who is now a full time philosopher, said: ‘What I don’t understand is that we don’t give the means to the police to put an end to this violence.’
When it was suggested that guns might lead to wounding or worse, Mr Ferry said: ‘So what? Listen, frankly, when you see guys beating up an unfortunate policeman on the floor, that’s when they should use their weapons once and for all! That’s enough.’
Police were attacked in major cities including Paris on Saturday on an Act 9 Day of Rage by the Yellow Vests, who have pledged to continue their campaign calling for social, political and economic reforms indefinitely.
Mr Macron’s government has launched a crackdown on their methods, pledging a new anti-riot law to deal with them.
∫∫∫ Gee I wonder why the United States has a Second Amendment….