French cops, yellow vests clash in Paris
Authorities arrest 361 people with various potential weapons
Paris: French riot police fired tear gas and clashed with “yellow vest” protesters in central Paris on Saturday during the latest in a wave of demonstrations against the high cost of living that have shaken President Emmanuel Macron’s authority.
Authorities said 575 people had been searched and briefly arrested and 361 people of them remained in custody after police found potential weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them.
Hundreds of protesters were milling around the Arc de Triomphe monument, which was defaced with antiMacron graffiti last Saturday, when rioters also torched dozens of cars and looted shops in the worst rioting in Paris since May 1968.
A police spokeswoman told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees boulevard. Large groups of people spilled into other areas and heading to eastern Paris, where a march against climate change was scheduled for the afternoon. Some also temporarily blocked the ring road circling central Paris.
“We took the train for 11 hours just to protest today. We feel scorned by these technocrats that govern us,” said Gilles Noblet, a demonstrator from the southwest region of Ariege.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe appealed for restraint. “We will do all we can so that today can be a day without violence, so that the dialogue that we started this week can continue in the best possible circumstances,” he said on French television.
On Tuesday, Philippe announced the government was suspending planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months to help defuse weeks Brussels: Hundreds of yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel marched on the European quarter of Brussels Saturday, as the movement that started in France made its mark in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Police used pepper spray and scuffled with a small group of protesters who tried to break through their barricade blocking access to the European Parliament and the European Union’s other main institutions.
The rallies, which started at different locations around the city and converged on the European quarter, have disrupted road and rail traffic on one of the busiest Christmas shopping days of the year.
Walking behind a banner
of protests, the first U-turn by Macron since he came to power 18 months ago.
About 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, some 8,000 of them in Paris. reading “social winter is coming,” the protesters chanted “(French President Emmanuel) Macron, Michel resign.”
Dozens of people were searched at stations and police have warned people to stay away from the area.
Hundreds of police officers have been being mobilized in Brussels. Last week, yellow vest protesters last week clashed with police and torched two police vehicles. More than 70 people were detained
In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, a few hundred protesters in the high visibility vests that have become a symbol of the movement walked peacefully across the downtown Erasmus Bridge singing a song about the Netherlands and handing flowers to passers-by.
“We have prepared a robust response,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told online news site Brut. He called on peaceful protesters not to get mixed up with “hooligans”.
Riot police walk towards protestors near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris