BEIRUT: Clashes between riot police and protesters in Riad al-Solh Friday night left the streets of Downtown Beirut covered in rubble, trash and broken glass.
After police fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protesters in an attempt to clear Riad al-Solh square, the crowds retreated to other areas of the capital’s central district.
Many protesters were seen being beaten and arrested by police and Lebanese Army personnel.
In Downtown Beirut, many stores had their windows smashed. A Puma shoe store was broken into and empty shoe boxes were thrown all over the area.
A shop belonging to Barakat Travel in the Azarieh building – which holds governmental offices and the economy and environment ministries – also had its windows broken. Papers, printers and other objects that could be grabbed through the metal barrier were thrown to the ground.
Bank Med and Al-Mawarid Bank also suffered damage. Shattered glass filled their offices and the sidewalks outside.
Several parking meter machines were also destroyed.
In fear of her wares being stolen or destroyed, a shoe shop owner in Azarieh took away all her stock.
“After last night, we felt that we cannot bear a loss,” the shop owner, who refused to give her name, told The Daily Star.
Dozens of people arrived in the early morning in Downtown Beirut with garbage bags, gloves and brooms to clean up the debris and glass covering the streets. Spread around the district, they shoveled charred panels of wood onto wheelbarrows and carried them off the streets.
Reem, 18, who was handing out gloves and garbage bags, said “This is our country. We protect it no matter what.”
Joseph Haddad, 20, came to clean the streets with his father and sister at 7 a.m. “We saw the news ... people breaking glass and shops, so we said we’re gonna wake up tomorrow and clean up our streets and stores that were destroyed yesterday,” Haddad said.
Meanwhile, people began gathering in Riad al-Solh square in the early morning. Wreckage – including burnt tires and wood boards – from Friday’s protests remained in the street.
Debris and overturned garbage bins partially blocked traffic flow in many streets in the capital. Hundreds of empty tear gas canisters, water bottles and shoes were also scattered over Riad al-Solh square.