Mass ar­rests as Paris hit by fresh ‘ yel­low vest’ protests

■ 8,000 cops de­ployed af­ter shut­ting shops, metro sta­tions

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

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”.

— AP

Demon­stra­tors run away dur­ing clashes in Paris on Satur­day.

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