By Adam Schrader*
Feb. 12 (UPI) — French police fired tear gas and arrested dozens of protesters in Paris opposing COVID-19 restrictions who were inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” trucker protest in Canada.
Protesters had managed to block the Place de l’Etoile around the Arc de Triomphe as riot police tried to clear them by repeatedly firing tear gas, France24 reported.
French police said in a statement that they made 44 arrests around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and fined hundreds of others during the protest.
Posts made to social media showed police impounding vehicles during the protests, and officials said in a statement that they had intercepted a convoy of 300 vehicles on the A4 highway, which leads into Paris.
Photos provided by police show that protesters had been equipped with slingshots, hammers, knives, gas cans and protective equipment in the anticipation of unrest.
French police banned the planned protest earlier this week and set up anti-riot barricades and deployed armored vehicles in a bid to discourage violence after banning the convoy from Paris on Thursday.
Police said that obscuring roads can lead to two years of imprisonment, a fine of about $5,100, the impoundment of the vehicle and a three-year driver’s license suspension. Organizers will face steeper fines.