Anti-Uber sentiment is heating up in France as the taxi-driving fraternity took to the roads on Thursday to block road-access to main transport hubs including train stations and airports, reported Reuters.

Riot police were dispatched, with reports of tear gas being used, as taxi drivers scuffled, burned tires, and blocked the main ring road that circles central Paris. Access was also blocked to the main Gare du Nord railway station.

A message on the website of Aéroports de Paris, the airport authority for Paris, reads: “Taxi drivers strike: blocked road access. Come to the airport by RER B [train].”

In an interesting twist, Courtney Love — widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain — has taken to Twitter to say that she is one of the victims of the protests, saying that “they’ve ambushed our car” and “beating the cars with metal bats.” In a later tweet, she asked French President François Hollande, “where are the fucking police.”

She then says that she paid some motorcyclyists to escape the blockade, and was “chased by a mob of taxi drivers.”

The protests are regarding UberPop, Uber’s ride-sharing service that connects travelers with private car owners. The fact that it effectively lets anyone become a taxi driver, with no regulation or licensing, is what has raised the ire of taxi drivers across the country. Indeed, many local drivers outside of Paris are continuing to vent their frustration at various facets of Uber’s operation.

UberPop Protest, Toulouse

Above: UberPop protest, Toulouse

Image Credit: Jen Schradie

Earlier this month, Uber launched UberPop in the French cities of Marseille, Nantes, and Strasbourg, having already been available in Paris and other cities, leading to a number of local protests from taxi drivers.

But things got uglier, when a handful of Marseille taxi drivers booked an UberPop car and hijacked it, letting the air down in its tires and holding the driver under temporary “arrest” while issuing threats. It was captured on video here.

UberPop’s legal status has been challenged in courts across the country, and last October a law was passed that seemingly banned the practice of connecting customers with unregistered drivers.

However, Uber continued to flout the law and even won a temporary reprieve in a Paris court. “No court of justice has judged that the service [UberPop] contravenes French law,” an Uber spokesperson told VentureBeat last month. “We therefore hope that the rule of law still prevails in France, which means that vigilante-style self justice cannot be tolerated. We will always stand by our partners, and that violence is despicable.”

UberPop drivers continue to rack up fines when caught in the act of picking up passengers, but a recent report in the New York Times suggests that Uber itself pays the fines, just as it does in other countries where its ride-sharing service is effectively banned.

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