French police arrested 174 protesters, detained 208 people and sprayed crowds with tear gas Sunday after warning them not to gather publicly, citing the city’s security concerns following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks. In defiance, protesters trampled flowers and candles left by mourners of the victims, earning the scorn of both the French president and global climate change organizers.
The protests and arrests marked a rowdy kickoff to a week of international negotiations in Paris that aim to shape a global climate change agreement. The arrests were made at a big square, the Place de la Republique, NBC reported, where mourners created a public memorial to victims of the terror attacks.
The city has been under a state of emergency since Nov. 13, when terrorists executed a series of deadly attacks in quick succession that killed 130 people and wounded 350. An official order has prohibited large gatherings in the city ever since.
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) November 29, 2015
Regardless, demonstrators poured into the city as it readied for the two-week United Nations climate change summit called COP21 that kicks off on Monday. About 150 world leaders and 4,000 delegates are to attend. Throughout Paris, thousands of people linked arms and formed a human chain along the proposed route of a climate march that was snuffed by the order, and laid out hundreds of pairs of shoes to symbolize protesters who were discouraged from attending.
The protests were part of a worldwide day of demonstrations dubbed the Global Climate March, which includes more than 2,000 events. But lead organizers distanced themselves from the Paris group after the arrests, BBC reported.
President François Hollande called the protesters’ behavior “scandalous” Sunday while attending an EU summit in Brussels, the French news service Agence France-Presse reported.