Protesters march through Paris amid fears of new violence

Cheryl Sanders
December 8, 2018

Of these, about 8,000 were deployed in Paris to avoid a repeat of last Saturday's mayhem, when rioters torched cars and looted shops off the famed Champs Elysees boulevard, and defaced the Arc de Triomphe with graffiti directed at President Emmanuel Macron.

Protesters and French police clashed in Paris on Saturday, marking the fourth weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron's government and his economic policies.

Paris police detained almost 300 people Saturday ahead of fresh anti-government "yellow vest" protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a third weekend in a row.

Riot police stand in line during copycat "yellow vest" demonstrations rocking neighbouring France, on December 8, 2018 in Brussels.

Up to 5,000 demonstrators gathered in the center of Paris Saturday morning, where they were met by some 8,000 police officers and at least 12 armored vehicles.

The grassroots movement began as resistance against a rise in taxes for diesel and gasoline, but quickly expanded to encompass frustration at stagnant incomes and the growing cost of living.


Many members of the protest movement had called for calm, and some struck a conciliatory tone after meeting the prime minister on Friday night, but that did not deter many people from trying to march on the presidential palace.

Police posted a video on Twitter of officers tackling a protester and confiscating his unsafe material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.

Defending the treatment of the children, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner aid: "Over the past few days, the students have been joined by about 100 hooded youths armed with clubs and incendiary devices and determined to pick a fight with police". "I hope he will speak to the people of France as a father, with love and respect and that he will take strong decisions", he said.

"These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control", Castaner said, vowing "zero tolerance" towards those aiming to wreak further destruction.

Mr Macron said his motivation for the increase was environmental, but protesters accused him of being out of touch.

Shouts of "Macron, resign" mingled with the tear gas near the famous Champs-Elysees avenue, the scene of the worst rioting in Paris for decades last weekend.


There were no cheers for Trump, nor did anybody say they were against the Paris Agreement - or even mention it, for that matter - although the increase in gasoline tax that was to take effect on January 1 had been promoted by Macron as a way to lessen dependence on fossil fuels.

Four people have been killed in accidents since the protests began on November 7. Christmas markets, national soccer matches and countless other events have been cancelled due to the protests.

Some stores along the Champs-Elysee had boarded up their windows with plywood, making the neighbourhood appear like it was bracing for a hurricane.

Paris police, fearing that radical protesters could turn street furniture and construction materials into makeshift weapons, on Friday were removing all glass containers, railings and construction machines in high-risk areas.

"It's with an enormous sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said.

While scattered scuffles broke out Saturday around central Paris, the action seemed less violent overall at midday than at the same time a week ago.


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