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Fearing a reprise of last weekend’s destructive “Yellow Vests” protests, the French government has urged Paris’s leading museums and cultural landmarks to stay on high alert.
Preempting demonstrations planned for this Saturday, December 8, museums including the Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Grand Palais, Musée d’Orsay, Orangerie, Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Fondation Louis Vuitton, and Jeu de Paume will all close for business. Major monuments in and around the city, like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Palace of Versailles will also shutter.
According to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, 89,000 police officers will be on duty across the country, and armored vehicles will patrol the capital on Saturday.
Le château et le domaine de Versailles seront exceptionnellement fermés à la visite samedi 8 décembre.
The Palace and Estate of Versailles are exceptionally closed for visit Saturday 8th of December.
— Chateau de Versailles (@CVersailles) December 7, 2018
“I will have no tolerance of those who capitalize on the distress of our citizens,” Philippe told reporters today, December 7. The prime minister also warned that “radical elements” could infiltrate planned “yellow vest” protests this weekend. AFP reports that authorities have seized 28 Molotov cocktails and 3 homemade bombs from Yellow Vests in the south of the country. That discovery confirms that the protest, which began in western and central France, is quickly spreading across the country. One student was recently injured during demonstrations in the town of Montbéliard, just 8 miles from the Swiss border.
“We are facing people who are not here to protest, but to smash and we want to have the means not to give them a free rein,” the prime minister added in an interview with TV channel TF1.
Paris officials say that they will step up protection of the city’s famous landmarks after the Arc de Triomphe was damaged last week. In addition to armored vehicles, there will be 8,000 police officers deployed in the capital.
The BBC reports that operators at the Eiffel Tower decided to close the tourist destination because it would be impossible to ensure “adequate security conditions” on the day of the protest.
Images of dozens of high school students kneeling with their hands behind their heads during mass roundups have circulated the news in France, sparking greater outcries of excessive force used by police amidst the fracas of the Yellow Vests protests. According to The Local France, some 150 students were arrested, the youngest being just 12-years-old.
— Musée du Louvre (@MuseeLouvre) December 6, 2018
“The Museum of the Louvre, the Delacroix Museum, and the Tuileries Garden will be exceptionally closed Saturday, December 8th,” read the Louvre’s announcement on Twitter, which was accompanied by a picture of the museum bereft of tourists. “Please excuse us for the inconvenience.”
Alongside Paris’ cultural institutions, the government also recommended luxury storefronts along the Champs d’Elysées to close for business and board up their windows.
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