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Paris attacks memorial damaged in climate change protest clashes with police

By Andrew V. Pestano
Paris attacks memorial damaged in climate change protest clashes with police
Anti-riot police keep vigil Sunday at a street corner as violence erupted after activists defied a ban on gatherings enforced by French authorities at Republic Square in Paris. More than 100 people were arrested as they attempted to go through with a global march for the climate, on the eve of the opening of COP21 in the French capital. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo

PARIS, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A memorial site for the victims of recent militant attacks in Paris was destroyed when French riot police clashed with climate change protesters.

The incident occurred Sunday at the Place de la Republique, which had become a temporary memorial for the 130 victims of the Nov. 13 Islamic State attacks in Paris. About 200 protesters clashed with police ahead of Monday's 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP21.

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The protest in Paris was part of a larger Global Climate March, which planned for 2,100 events to be held worldwide. Organizers said it was one of the largest climate change protests in history, in which a possible 570,000 people in 175 countries participated.

The Global Climate March also took place in Australia, Brazil, Chile and England. The activists want the COP21 to satisfy its main goal of creating a legally binding and universal agreement on reducing global carbon emissions, with the hopes of holding global average temperatures short of a 2 degree Celsius increase over pre-industrial global temperatures.

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About 45,000 protesters participated in Australia's capital, Sydney. About 50,000 people marched in London.

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The protesters in Paris ignored the country's state of emergency that forbids demonstrations. Organizers said they put out about 10,000 empty shoes near the Place de la Republique to represent those who could not attend the climate change protest due to the demonstration ban.

The protest intensified throughout Sunday, with about 4,500 people forming a human chain around midday. Some protesters allegedly began throwing candles and other objects from the memorial site at police.

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the violence at the Place de la Republique was disrespectful to the memory of the victims of the recent attacks.

French President Francois Hollande said "everything will be done" to keep violent protesters away from the climate change conference, adding that the violence at the Place de la Republique was "scandalous."

At least 174 people were jailed for possible charges, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

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