Clashes as 'yellow vest' protests morph in Belgium and Netherlands
Clashes as 'yellow vest' protests morph in Belgium and Netherlands
France gears up to face new riots; Paris shuts down
09 December, 2018, 03:00
The grassroots movement began as resistance against a rise in taxes for diesel and petrol, but quickly expanded to encompass frustration at stagnant incomes, the growing cost of living and other grievances.
The "yellow vest" movement was named after the safety jackets French motorists are required to keep in their vehicles, which the protesters wear at demonstrations.
The third day of protests takes place on Saturday, Dec 1, with widespread violence erupting particularly in Paris around the Arc de Triomphe and several upscale neighbourhoods.
After two weekends of violence in Paris that made the authorities look powerless to secure their capital, police went into overdrive on Saturday to keep a lid on unrest.
Armoured vehicles rolled through central Paris on Saturday as riot police clashed with "yellow vest" demonstrators, who set fire to barricades and hurled rocks in the latest demonstrations against president Emmanuel Macron.
Protesters who came to Paris from Normandy described seeing officers block yellow-vested passengers from boarding at stops along their route.
Mr Macron's government had warned that the yellow vest protests had created a "monster" and the Paris actions would be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds to become the most unsafe yet after three weeks of demonstrations.
Earlier in the day, Trump took to Twitter to express his love to France, claiming that the "yellow vest" demonstrators were chanting "We Want Trump!" as a sign of solidarity with his tough stance on the Paris deal.
Left-wing politicians have expressed outrage at the videos, which have gone viral on social media, showing the teenagers kneeling as riot police barked orders at them.
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Police also confiscated from protesters any equipment that could be used as protection such as helmets, protective glasses, and cartridges of saline solution for the eyes. By mid-afternoon, more than 700 people had been stopped and questioned, and more than 400 were being held in custody, according to a Paris police spokeswoman. No injuries have been reported.
Over 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, 8,000 of them centred in Paris.
Authorities say the protests have been hijacked by far-right and anarchist elements bent on violence and stirring up social unrest, in a direct affront to Macron and the security forces.
Protesters took to the streets here Saturday, calling for the resignation of French President Emmanuel Macron - and, in Trump's imagination at least, wildly cheering the American president.
Mr Macron himself has been largely invisible in recent days, leaving his prime minister and government to try to negotiate with protesters.
Four people have died in accidents during the "yellow vest" protests and political leaders from across the spectrum have appealed for calm. Christmas markets, national soccer matches and countless other events have been cancelled due to the protests.
Some stores along the city's elegant Champs-Elysees Avenue had boarded up their windows as though bracing for a hurricane, but the storm struck anyway, this time at the height of the holiday shopping season.
Police removed any materials from the streets that could be used as weapons or projectiles during the demonstrations, including street furniture at outdoor cafes. Offshoot movements have emerged elsewhere, and yellow-vest protests were planned Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Since then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has floated the idea of a bonus payment for low-paid workers. Police fired tear gas in a bid to push back hundreds of protesters gathered around the shopping boulevard and the Arc de Triomphe monument. Some protesters called for support for a borderless European Union, while others demanded Frexit, or a French exit from the bloc.
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