Authorities in Paris and Brussels have set up roadblocks in an effort to prevent protests similar to Canada’s Freedom Convoy from taking place. Citing “risks of trouble to public order,” the Paris Police Department banned protests aimed at “blocking the capital” from Friday through Monday. In addition to blocking roads, police have said they will make arrests.
The Paris Police department warned that blocking traffic can lead to two years in prison, up to 4,500 euros in fines and a suspended driver’s license. According to them, protesters have been organizing online in hopes of repeating Canada’s Freedom Convoy protests. The demonstrations are reportedly set to begin Friday night with protesters converging on Paris before making their way to Brussels on Monday.
Like their counterparts in Paris, police in Brussels — which is the home of European Union institutions — have announced similar measures. Authorities banned the protest and promised a “wide perimeter” around the city complete with roadblocks and checkpoints manned by police. Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said that officials decided to ban the Freedom Convoy” protest because organizers failed to seek permission to hold the event.
Over the summer, France was rocked by weeks of protests against the country’s vaccine passport measures. The French government made proof of vaccination a requirement for entry to several venues this past August, including restaurants, gyms and coffee shops. Up to 200,000 people turned out to a single demonstration in Paris during the peak of the protests, according to figures from the country’s interior ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a hardline stance against the protests, saying that unvaccinated French citizens should be made to feel uncomfortable and have their rights restricted in a statement last month. Macron’s government claims that 90% of its citizens are vaccinated and promised to “reduce” the 10% who aren’t with harsh measures. “How do we reduce that minority?” Macron asked, rhetorically. “We reduce it – sorry for the expression – by pissing them off even more.”