Around 75,000 people participated in Saturday’s “Yellow Vest” protests against fuel costs and reform policies throughout France. There were 205 arrests in Paris.
In the French capital, it has come again to violent riots in demonstrations of the “yellow vests”. Around the Champs-Elysees there were serious riots. In the area around the splendor boulevard on Saturday demonstrators delivered street battles with the police. Whole streets were devastated. Dozens of people were injured and more than 200 people were arrested.
On Saturday morning, demonstrators tried again and again to break barriers, the police went with water cannons and tear gas against them. Later, the riots shifted further into the side streets. Around the famous boulevard cars and street furniture were set on fire.
In the past week there had been riots in Paris. This is the third weekend in a row that thousands of people have demonstrated to the “yellow vests” protest movement in France.
By Saturday afternoon, according to authorities, about 75,000 people were on the streets across the country, several media reported. Thus, more than 200 people were arrested. 65 people were injured in Paris alone, including eleven security forces. In the capital, according to figures from noon about 5,500 demonstrators were on the way. Although fewer people are protesting than last week, the number of injured was much higher.
The “yellow vests” go out in protest against rising fuel costs and the reform policy of the government on the street. The anger is directed directly against President Emmanuel Macron, whose policies they perceive as aloof.
Although the Champs-Elysees were open to pedestrians on Saturday, identity and security checks were made at the entrances to the boulevard. So an actual escalation should be prevented as in the past week. Even then, street furniture was set on fire, paving stones excavated and many shops were damaged.
Riots were particularly violent on this Saturday, first at the Arch of Triumph at the head of the Champs-Elysees. The security forces had built barriers. The police used water cannons and tear gas, demonstrators dressed in yellow vests tried over and over to break barriers. They also set fire to pyrotechnics.
As the day wore on, the rioting continued to shift into the streets around the famous boulevard. There were cars lit – the whole area was engulfed in black clouds of smoke. Shops were demolished, restaurant terraces devastated. In other cities, the protests went largely without incident.
Premier Edouard Philippe said that some of the demonstrators were using force against the police. “There is no excuse for attacking and provoking the law enforcement forces,” said Philippe. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner called the incidents “intolerable” and an “insult to the Republic”.
On television pictures, some demonstrators gathered in the afternoon at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the triumphal arch and sang the French national anthem. On the boulevard itself, around 200 “yellow vests” peacefully demonstrated according to official figures.
The movement, named after the safety vests in the car, is wide and diffuse. Behind it is no union and no party. President Macron announced a course change in energy policy last week. In the future, fuel taxes should be linked to the development of the world market price for oil so that the costs for citizens do not rise too high.
According to surveys, the French consider the measures inadequate – popular support for the “yellow vests” has even increased. Several opposition politicians have accused the government of escalating violence to discredit the “yellow vests”. The nationalist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan called for the resignation of Interior Minister Castaner. Left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon criticized the government for “excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators”.
Macron himself strongly condemned the riots on Saturday. “I will always accept protest, I will always listen to the opposition, but I will never accept violence,” he said during a speech at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Nothing to justify attacks on the police, plundering or vandalism.