Eight on trial for stealing Macron portraits

PARIS (AFP) – Eight protesters went on trial in Paris yesterday for stealing official portraits of 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 global warming.

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 which carry a maximum five-year jail term.

Several hundred protesters held up the portraits during a protest in southwestern 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,” left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

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

Ecology activists demonstrate in front of Paris’ courthouse in support of eight of them and one video journalist charged with “robbery in collusion” in Paris. PHOTO: AFP