Yellow vest protesters urge French citizens to empty bank accounts

The boxer punching a police officer

A masked protestor stands in front of a police vehicle in Paris on January 5, 2019, during a rally by yellow vest "Gilets Jaunes" anti-government protestors.

He said the government would support a new law to punish the organisers of unauthorised protests, banning known troublemakers from taking part and arresting demonstrators who turn up wearing masks to hide their identities.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a TV interview late on Monday announced plans for legislation banning "troublemakers" from attending demonstrations.

The onus would be on "the troublemakers, and not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused" to businesses and property during the protests, the premier added.

French President Emmanuel Macron's government has scrambled to reorganise its planned national debate on the Yellow Vest crisis following the surprise resignation of the lead co-ordinator Chantal Jouanno.

Several men driving a forklift truck also smashed open the doors of the ministry of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux in Paris, who denounced the break-in as an "unacceptable attack on the republic".

The demonstration began peacefully but turned aggressive as police fired tear gas to prevent protesters, who torched cars and burned barricades, from reaching parliament.

The images of renewed violence and destruction in Paris last Saturday underscored the difficulty of containing a leaderless movement that appeared to be petering out at the end of past year but has since gained new momentum.

Dettinger turned himself in on Monday, saying he was trying to defend himself and other demonstrators, though he acknowledged: "I reacted badly".

"I support honest citizens protesting against a president who governs against his people", Salvini said, while "firmly" condemning recent protest violence.

Disturbing footage emerged showing police beating protesters in the southern city of Toulon, with multiple media reporting that the incident is now under investigation for brutality.

Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin sought to distinguish genuine protesters, who want lower taxes and more help for low-income families, from those "who are in the business of ultra-violence".

"There is a minority of our citizens who believe that violence is justified, give money for violence", Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud told CNews television.

The French government appears politically weakened by the yellow vest movement but can still pass new bills at parliament, where Macron's centrist party holds a strong majority. Di Maio wrote in a post on his party's blog. Lack of clear leadership of the "yellow vest" movement has fueled concern that it might be infiltrated or hijacked by violent radicals.

The spat between the two countries threatens to worsen European Union political and economic divisions as each country exploits the other's political and socio-economic tensions while underscoring the increasingly sour relations between Paris and Rome.