Police and protesters clash while world leaders proceed to Paris climate talks

By @pathakmishra on
Environmentalists gather during a protest near the Place de la Republique
Environmentalists gather during a protest near the Place de la Republique after the cancellation of a planned climate march following shootings in the French capital, ahead of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21), in Paris, France, November 29, 2015. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

French police have arrested around 208 people protesting in the Place de la Republique and attacking the officers with bottles and candles that had been left there to pay tribute to the Nov. 13 Paris attack victims.

Initially, the protest was peaceful as people gathered to show their support for global climatic accord, but soon it turned violent. A small group of protesters disrupted the gathering and threw projectiles at police. The broadcast media coverage of the incident on Sunday showed the protesters attacking police officers, who in return charged the crowd and dragged people away.

French police also dispersed tear gas on the crowd to bring them under control. The violence and disintegration took place on the spot where people prayed for the Paris attacks victims and set an example of unity just before a week or two. The news coverage of the incident came while the world leaders were descending towards the Paris climate talks.

“These disruptive elements have nothing to do with defenders of the environment,” French President Francois Hollande said at the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels. “They are not there so that the [COP21] talks succeed but are there solely to create incidents. It is doubly regrettable, even scandalous, that this happened at the Place de la Republique where flowers and candles have been left in memory of those who were killed by the terrorists’ bullets in the November 13 Paris attacks.”

Before the protest turned violent, there were thousands of people who gathered and formed a human chain near the square to convey a highly symbolic message to the 140 world leaders gathered for the Paris climate talks.

The French Interior Ministry, seeing the violence in protests, has cancelled a number of public demonstrations during the COP21 climate talks. The meeting will proceed on Monday, addressing around 40,000 delegates, including U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

In the wake of the continuation of the climate talks, the French authorities have closed some of the main roads around Paris until late Monday to keep the traffic clear for the dignitaries.

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