France considers state of emergency after riots tear parts of Paris apart
Dec 03 2018
Last weekend was the third in a row of anti-government protests in France, as clashes in Paris between as many as 8,000 protesters and 5,000 police officers wielding tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons resulted in one death, at least 133 injuries and over 400 arrests.
More than 100 people were injured in the city, including 23 members of the security forces, and almost 400 people were arrested, police said. They say 378 of the arrested have been put in police custody after the violence that tore apart parts of central Paris.
Charred cars, broken windows and downed fences from the riot littered numerous city's most popular tourist areas on Sunday, including major avenues near the Arc de Triomphe, streets around the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue, and the Tuileries garden.
Prime minister Édouard Philippe will head talks with political leaders and activists, although it may prove hard due to the diverse nature of the protests.
Workmen cleared away burnt hulks of cars, scrubbed the defaced Arc de Triomphe monument and replaced the shattered windows of luxury boutiques in Paris on Sunday after the worst riots in the centre of the capital in half a century.
Upon his return to Paris on Sunday, Macron immediately visited the capital's Arc de Triomphe - a flashpoint in Saturday's violent protests - to "take stock of the damage" and pay tribute to the tomb of the unknown soldier at its base, CNN affiliate BFMTV reported.
The unrest began as a backlash against fuel tax hikes but has spread.
But the protests have evolved into a broader demonstration against French President Emmanuel Macron, his government and tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, closing down dozens of streets and subway stations to contain the riot.
Graffiti was also sprayed on many shopfronts and buildings.
Protests began on November 17 and quickly grew thanks to social media, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to shopping malls, factories and some fuel depots.
"We're a peaceful movement, but we're disorganised - it's a mess because we don't have a leader", said Dan Lodi, a 68-year-old pensioner on the Champs-Elysees.
Mr Macron returned from the G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning and went straight to the Arc de Triomphe to assess the damage.
"[Violence] has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger", he said, adding that "no cause justifies" the attacks.
One of the country's most famous monuments had been set upon by a violent wing of the "gilets jaunes" (yellow vests) protest movement, and beneath the smashed statue of Marianne - a symbol of the Republic - the anti-Macron graffiti would have been impossible to ignore.
While many protesters vent their anger at President Emmanuel Macron, who took an unpopular decision to raise taxes and increase prices on fuel and other commodities, "they don't realize the problem is much deeper and has to do with the general policy of the European Union".
"I will never accept violence", Macron told a press conference in Buenos Aires before flying home. There he met with firefighters, police officers and restaurant owners.
Extremists on the left and right, anarchists and vandals have joined the demonstrations.
After the meeting, he asked his interior minister, Christophe Castaner, to prepare security forces for future protests, according toReuters.
Twenty cars, including three police vehicles, were also torched near Narbonne in the southwest, the official said.
"You always have some idiots who come to fight, but they don't represent us at all", he said.