Paris has a reputation for being peaceful. The city was anything but this weekend when rioters wearing yellow jackets stormed the streets of the centuries-old city, causing widespread damage and wreaking havoc wherever they went.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron surveyed the damage done by the rioters on Sunday, according to Europe’s Euractiv.
Macron inspected the damage done to the Arc de Triomphe, one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. The Arc sits at the end of the Champs Elysees, a busy street. The Arc de Triomphe was erected by Napoleon in 1806.
The Arc has been sprayed with graffiti. Rioters also looted the ticket and reception areas. The face of a sculpture was smashed inside. The monument is closed now, as are many of the businesses nearby.
Police have arrested over 400 people. Cars were set on fire, restaurants looted, and chaos reigned through the streets. There were 263 people injured around the country.
“I will never accept violence…No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is defiled,” Macron said.
Three people have died as a direct result of the riots.
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Mostly, the riots were sparked by a raise in taxes on diesel fuel. The riots are the climax of two weeks of protests. Economic problems around the country have created unrest.
According to The Guardian, a recurrence of this violence is likely. One reporter wrote “never before have I seen blind anger like this on the streets of Paris.”
France’s Unknown Soldier, a man who fought in WWI, lies beneath the Arc. President Macron stopped here before he looked at the graffiti and the other damage to the monument. The gift shop was totally destroyed. Nearby, windows were smashed, cars burned, and stores looted, according to USA Today. Multiple colors of graffiti were used to cover the Arc.
Tourist areas in Paris were targeted, including high-end shops and restaurants frequented by travelers. Graffiti was sprayed on many other buildings around the area as well.
City employees are already cleaning the graffiti, starting with the Arc de Triomphe.
Fires were started at six buildings, and 112 vehicles were torched in the riots, according to WIS 10 News. Some of the rioters carried gardening tools and hammers with them as they tore through the streets.
Images from the riots show terrible violence. Fires and smoke appear to be everywhere. On Sunday morning, citizens of Paris found their city smashed and broken, the streets filled with debris. At this point, it’s not known if the damage to the Arc can be totally repaired.