Tear gas spoils Macron’s Bastille Day parade
French riot police fired tear gas to disperse more masked protesters from the Champs Élysées at the Bastille Day military parade in Paris on Sunday.
A group of masked men in black dragged metal security barriers and set fire to bins in central Paris.
The violence was brief but marked the worst clashes between police and protesters in central Paris since March.
The protesters shouted “Macron we’re coming to get you” and evaded police checks and reached the military parade by not wearing yellow vests. Some turned their backs on Macron as he was driven past.
The men were not wearing the yellow vests (gilets jaunes) of protests since November 17.
At the traditional annual military parade, around 150 people, including yellow vest protesters, held a parallel demonstration.
The anti-elite movement was boosted last week when François de Rugy, the environment minister, was accused of hosting lavish dinners at taxpayers’ expense. On Saturday marchers around France carried large mock lobsters.
Prominent gilets jaunes activists Jérôme Rodrigues and Maxime Nicolle were briefly detained.
Although there has been a decline in the number of people taking part in the protests each Saturday across France, the movement is still operational.
Security was tight for the July 14 events to mark the 1789 storming of the Bastille in Paris during the French Revolution.
President Emmanuel Macron pushed ahead with the idea of a European army.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and nine other European leaders attended the aerial display and armed forces parade along the Champs-Élysées.
Macron initiated plans for a European armed force 18 months ago outside Nato and the EU’s defence wing.
“Never since the end of the Second World War has Europe been so necessary,” Macron told the event. “The construction of a Europe of defence, in connection with [Nato]… is a priority for France. It is the theme of this parade.”
The French displayed a new weapon, the Boréades, which can destroy drones by jamming their communications.
At Macron’s first Bastille Day parade in 2017, he invited Donald Trump and the tycoon turned populist’s attitude to Macron has bolstered his resolve to create an independent European defence.
“We will strengthen our understanding of the situation in space; we will protect our satellites better,” Macron added.
An inventor on a jet-powered hover-board was the highlight of the show.
Franky Zapata floated 20 metres above the Place de la Concorde on his board clutching a rifle.
The French armed forces are to test the board “as a flying assault platform”.
The board has four turbojet engines and, according to Zapata, it can reach 160km/h and stay airborne for 40 minutes.
Violence has become less common in Paris in recent months. Picture credit: YouTube