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Climate change activists on trial in Paris for stealing Macron portraits | World news


Eight protesters are to go on trial in Paris on Wednesday for stealing official portraits of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, from public buildings as part of a protest over climate change.

The activists, aged 23 to 36, have been charged with theft after taking down the pictures from local government offices around the capital in February.

The acts of civil disobedience were part of a movement called Take Down Macron, which was intended to highlight alleged inaction by the French government over the global crisis.

The group behind it, Non-Violent Action COP21 (ANV-COP21), claims that 128 portraits have been stolen across France, while 57 people face “group theft” charges that carry a maximum five-year jail term.

Several hundred protesters held up the portraits during a protest in south-western France at the end of August near Biarritz, where Macron was hosting a G7 summit of world leaders.

“Solidarity with the people who took down the portraits of our presidential monarch,” leftwing political leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon tweeted on Tuesday.

Cécile Duflot, the head of campaign group Oxfam in France, also backed the protesters, writing: “It’s a symbolic action and not a group theft.”

Some of the activists wait for their trial at the courthouse in Paris on 11 September.
Some of the activists wait for their trial at the courthouse in Paris. Photograph: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

All public schools and government offices display the president’s portrait, with Macron’s showing him perched on the edge of his desk with two mobile phones and the memoirs of French resistance hero and post-war president Charles de Gaulle behind him.

It is not the first time the picture of the 41-year-old leader has been targeted. In October 2017, mayors in the central Creuse region turned Macron’s picture round so that he faced the wall, in protest at cuts to local government budgets and job losses.

The first trial over the thefts of presidential portraits took place at the end of May in the eastern town of Bourg-en-Bresse.

An environmental campaigner was fined €250 (£222) and five others received suspended fines.


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