Mass arrests as Paris hit by fresh ‘ yellow vest’ protests
■ 8,000 cops deployed after shutting shops, metro stations
Paris, Dec. 8: Armoured vehicles rolled through central Paris on Saturday as riot police clashed with “yellow vest” demonstrators, who set fire to barricades and hurled rocks in the latest demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.
Shouts of “Macron, resign” mingled with tear gas on the ChampsElysees avenue.
Thick plumes of black smoke from fires could be seen rising high into the sky over the city.
Government calls for protesters to stay away from “Act IV” of a battle that began over fuel prices but ballooned into an anti- Macron revolt fell on deaf ears, with demonstrators making their way to Paris from across the country.
Paris, Dec. 8: Paris police detained nearly 300 people on Saturday ahead of fresh anti- government “yellow vest” protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a third weekend in a row.
Clad in their luminous road safety jackets, dozens of demonstrators — who accuse President Emmanuel Macron of only looking out for the rich — gathered at dawn on the Champs- Elysees, the scene last Saturday of the worst rioting in Paris for decades.
“We had to come to Paris to be heard,” said protester Herve Benoit, arriving with three friends from the Dordogne in western France. He called on the government to boost people’s spending power and increase taxes on the wealthiest. By 8.40 am ( 0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people. Some 8,000 police were deployed, carrying out checks on people arriving at train stations and at protest hotspots such as the Champs- Elysees and Bastille monument.
A source close to the operation said that at least 34 people were arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police.
Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed as much of the city- centre went on effective lockdown. Top- flight football matches and concerts were cancelled. Last weekend’s violence, which saw some 200 cars torched and the Arc de Triomphe vandalised, shook France and plunged Macron’s government into its deepest crisis so far.
Interior minister Christophe Castaner said he expected “only a few thousand people” to descend on Paris after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, “but among them are ultraviolent individuals”.
Demonstrators run away during clashes in Paris on Saturday.