French police clash with protesters backing Calais migrants

A French flag hangs from a balcony in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Nov.26, 2015. Flying the French flag in a garden — for decades considered bad taste or a symbol of ultranationalism — is now back in favor with the French after the deadly attacks on Paris. In background is the Sainte Marie cathedral. (AP Photo/BobEdme)

CALAIS, France (AP) — French police have fired tear gas and water cannons on protesters defending migrants in the northern city of Calais as the government prepares to shut down the city’s notorious migrant camp.

The demonstrators — including activists from migrant support groups, a far-left presidential candidate and migrants themselves — defied a ban by authorities on Saturday’s protest. The protesters say they are expressing solidarity with the migrants, who face imminent expulsion from the camp.

Hundreds of people came in by bus from other cities, and were met by police, who used tear gas to disperse them and keep them from marching into the city center.

President Francois Hollande has pledged to close the Calais camp by the end of the year and transfer thousands of migrants around France while their asylum cases are examined.

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