Climate activists nab Macron portraits, divide French judges

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FILE – In this Aug.25, 2019 file photo, demonstrators hold up upside down portraits of French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest in Bayonne, France. One by one, environmental activists around France have been taking portraits of President Emmanuel Macron down from scattered town halls this year. The portrait-removers, have been facing trials around the country, with some fined, others released. An appeals court in Lyon is reconsidering the first conviction handed down over portrait removal Tuesday. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

LYON, France (AP) — Is stealing a presidential portrait a prison-worthy crime? Or a laudable act of civil disobedience?

Courts around France are grappling with this question in response to an unusual new environmental movement that’s aiming to press French President Emmanuel Macron to do more to fight climate change.

One by one, activists have removed Macron’s official portraits from more than 130 town halls this year, from the foothills of the Alps to the Left Bank of Paris. Activists argue that the centrist, business-friendly leader isn’t acting boldly enough to cut emissions. They say France has lagged on its international commitments to increase renewable energy use.

The portrait-removers have faced trials around the country, with some fined, others acquitted. The latest trial was last week in Lyon, with a new one coming this week.

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