French yellow vest protests met with huge security in Paris
Dec 09 2018
The protesters gathered in two districts of the city - Arts Lois and Porte de Namur - but there were no incidents of violence. Police installed special reinforced barricades in the posh streets around the presidential Elysee palace.
Associated Press reporters witnessed multiple protesters hurt in Saturday's clashes with police.
Among them were dozens arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police. An AP video journalist was wounded in the leg as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on the Champs-Elysees.
Parts of Paris looked like they were bracing for a hurricane, with boards on windows covering up the Christmas decorations. So a group of a few hundred took side streets and tried to get past a police barricade, and police fired back with tear gas.
By noon, more than 500 had been detained in Paris, according to a police spokeswoman.
The Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum shut down Saturday along with hundreds of stores and businesses, fearing damage after rioting and looting last Saturday that saw 130 people injured and the worst urban unrest in Paris in decades.
While the protests began over fuel taxes, they have snowballed into a wider movement against Macron, largely among people in small-town and rural France.
Neither country has proposed a hike in fuel tax - the catalyst for the massive and destructive demonstrations in France in recent weeks.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the radical-left France Unbowed party, attended a climate rally in Bordeaux with members of the yellow vest movement. The national gendarme service posted a video on Twitter of police tackling a protester and confiscating his risky material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.
But who exactly makes up the "yellow vest" movement, and will the government be able to quell their anger after a month of increasingly fiery protests? Those included the world-renowned Champs-Elysees Avenue, which would normally be packed with tourists and shoppers on a Saturday in early December.
Philippe said 8,000 police would be mobilised in Paris out of 89,000 nationwide, and that a dozen armoured vehicles would be deployed - a first in the capital.
Mr Macron, who has not spoken in public since he condemned last Saturday's disturbances while at the G20 summit in Argentina, will address the nation early next week, his office said.
The cost of diesel has increased by 20 per cent in the past 12 months to an average of 1.49 euros per litre. "People have well understood that if they want to demonstrate peacefully, they have to submit to these checks", she said.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged calm. "We know that the violent people are only strong because they hide themselves within the yellow vests, which hampers the security forces", he said Saturday.
Since the anti-government unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents. Christmas markets, national football matches and countless other events have been cancelled or disrupted by the protests.
Scenes of schoolchildren kneeling with their hands behind their heads has triggered outrage as France braces itself for more violent protests this weekend.
While the Yellow Vest protests began as a reaction to an increase in fuel taxes, the movement has not only become a general protest over taxes and cost of living, but also against globalism, the European Union, and the UN Global Compact for Migration.
But to say the demonstrations are against the Paris Agreement is a stretch, and to say the protesters were calling for Trump is a lie.
"People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment".