Free money riot: who was to blame?

November 16, 2009

A COMPANY that planned to hand out €100,000 in cash to thousands of people in Paris is facing legal action after the stunt was cancelled at the last minute and turned into a riot.

According to police, about 7,000 people gathered on the Place Joffre at the far end of the Champ de Mars, overlooking the Eiffel Tower, shortly after midday on Saturday for the handout.

The Interior Ministry has begun legal proceedings against, which was planning to throw 5,000 packages containing between €5 and €500 in banknotes to the public from red London double-decker buses.

Despite receiving a formal authorisation from police for the handout to go ahead, the company was asked to cancel at the very last minute because police noticed a large number of people were descending on the area and disrupting traffic.

Organisers had said a fortnight before the event that “tens of thousands of people” were expected – and that only about a dozen security officers would be present.

News of the cancellation angered the crowds. Apples and oranges were thrown, some shop windows were smashed and an unmarked police car was overturned. Nine people were arrested.

See a slideshow of photos from the riots here. insisted it had done nothing wrong and was following police requests. It said it would be donating the €100,000 to charity.

Using cash for advertising or publicity purposes is illegal in France, but is punishable with a fine of only €150.

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