French police intercepted hundreds of vehicles and issued almost 300 fines as self-declared “freedom convoys” attempted to enter Paris to protest COVID-19 restrictions Saturday.
Convoys are trying to enter the French capital from different directions to protest the vaccine pass, which the French government requires people to have in order to access many public spaces. Some protestors also decry rising energy prices.
Despite a ban on such protests in Paris, hundreds of vehicles — mostly cars, vans and mobile-homes — gathered on Paris’ ring road Saturday after spending the night on the outskirts of the capital, according to an AFP report.
Paris police have read nearly 7,200 officers to prevent protesters from entering the city in the coming days.
Police said Saturday morning they were intercepting vehicles at multiple entry points to the capital, including a 450-vehicle convoy near Porte de Saint-Cloud. By Wednesday, police said they had issued at least 283 fines.
Protesters have taken inspiration from Canada’s “freedom convoy” demonstrations which launched last month, initially to protest a vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into the country.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday defended the protest ben in Paris, arguing: “The right to protest and to have an opinion is a right that’s constitutionally guaranteed in our republic and in our democracy. The right to block others … is not.”