Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Yellow vest movement: Paris police fire tear gas at protesters

Protesters wearing yellow vests walk on the Champs Elysees Avenue with the Arc de Triomphe in the background during a national day of protest by the French troops deployed in Paris amid ‘yellow vest’ protest
Rhonda Young | 08 December, 2018, 18:28

We will keep you up to date with developments throughout the day after last weekend's protests saw the capital's worst street unrest in more than half a century and France's young centrist president, Emmanuel Macron, faces the stiffest challenge of his term so far.

They argue the president is out of touch with ordinary people and many are calling on him to resign.

Groups in yellow vests also gathered near the Bastille plaza and a few other spots around Paris.

About 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, some 8,000 of them in Paris. Christmas markets, national football matches and countless other events have been cancelled or duisrupted by the protests.

"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.

"We are not here to destroy Paris, we are here to tell Macron we are f-king fed up", said one protester before the clashes with the police began, adding that the people are protesting ever-increasing taxes on the working class.

French gendarmes apprehend a protester during clashes at a demonstration by the
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"We need to protect culture sites in Paris but also everywhere in France", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio. Paris police said 30 people were injured, including three police officers. Offshoot movements have emerged elsewhere, and yellow-vest protests were planned Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Authorities said some 8,000 people were demonstrating in Paris, where 600 people had been searched and briefly arrested.

Hundreds of marchers tried to enter the European quarter of Brussels, throwing paving stones, road signs, fireworks, flares and other objects at police blocking their entry to an area where Mr Michel's offices, other government buildings and the parliament are located. Protesters gathered in Arts Lois and Porte de Namur districts in the center of the city.

"There have been around 70 arrests following checks carried out as a preventive measure", Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van De Keere said.

Despite the violence, the movement has garnered support from the French people, with 77 percent justifying the protests according to French news site Le Figaro.

They also put up a barricade near the Franco-Belgian border close to Adinkerque, Belga said. He called on peaceful protesters not to get mixed up with "hooligans". On Friday, workers were seen preparing and securing the area by barricading shop windows.

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Much of the city will effectively be on lockdown.

In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across Paris, including the Louvre, the Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, will keep their doors shut on Saturday for safety reasons.

As it did last weekend, the U.S. Embassy advised Americans to avoid the demonstrations.

In a warning of impending violence, an MP for Macron's party, Benoit Potterie, received a bullet in the post on Friday with the words: "Next time it will be between your eyes".

These protesters met at the Champs-Elysées and marched to a police cordon before stopping.

On Tuesday, Philippe announced the government would suspend planned fuel tax increases for at least six months to help defuse weeks of protests, marking the first U-turn by Macron's government since he came to power 18 months ago.

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In late 2017, the French government approved a decision to raise the direct tax on diesel fuel, the most popular type in the country. This, however, failed to stop the protests, which have been under way since November 17.

And the hardline CGT union, hoping to capitalise on the movement, has called for rail and Metro strikes next Friday to demand immediate wage and pension increases.

Castaner estimated Friday that 10,000 people were taking part nationwide.

Meanwhile US President Donald Trump tweeted his comments on the protests in France.

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