French po­lice, protesters clash in Paris riot

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY SYLVIE COR­BET

PARIS

A French protest against ris­ing taxes and the high cost of liv­ing turned into a riot Sat­ur­day in Paris as po­lice fired tear gas and wa­ter can­nons in street bat­tles with ac­tivists wear­ing the flu­o­res­cent yel­low vests of a new move­ment.

Po­lice said at least 80 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 16 po­lice of­fi­cers, were in­jured in vi­o­lent protests in the French cap­i­tal, and 183 oth­ers were ar­rested. Thou­sands of po­lice were de­ployed in Paris to try to con­tain the protests.

It was the third straight week­end of clashes in Paris, and the scene con­trasted sharply with protests Sat­ur­day in other French re­gions, where demon­stra­tions and road block­ades were largely peace­ful.

The clashes started early Sat­ur­day near the Arc de Tri­om­phe mon­u­ment and con­tin­ued in the af­ter­noon down sev­eral streets in the French cap­i­tal’s most pop­u­lar tourist area. Pock­ets of demon­stra­tors built makeshift bar­ri­cades in the mid­dle of Paris streets, lit fires, sprayed graf­fiti on the Arc de Tri­om­phe and threw rocks at of­fi­cers. They also set fire to cars and trash cans.

Some demon­stra­tors re­moved the bar­ri­ers pro­tect­ing the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier from World War I un­der the Arc de Tri­om­phe mon­u­ment, to pose near its eter­nal flame and sing the na­tional an­them. They were then dis­persed by po­lice.

Paris Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo tweeted her “in­dig­na­tion” and “deep sad­ness,” say­ing that vi­o­lence is “not ac­cept­able.”

In ad­di­tion to ris­ing taxes, demon­stra­tors are fu­ri­ous about Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s lead­er­ship, say­ing his gov­ern­ment does not care about or­di­nary peo­ple. The grass­roots protests be­gan with mo­torists upset over a fuel tax hike, but now in­volve a broad range of de­mands re­lated to France’s high cost of liv­ing. Some of the protests ap­pear to have been hi­jacked by more rad­i­cal far-right or far-left groups.

French Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe said some protesters at­tacked po­lice “with a rarely seen vio- lence,” lead­ing to the ar­rests.

French au­thor­i­ties said they counted 36,000 protesters across the coun­try, in­clud­ing 5,500 in Paris.

KAMIL ZIHNIOGLU AP

A demon­stra­tor leaves as wa­ter can­nons evac­u­ate the Place de l’Etoile on Sat­ur­day in Paris. A French protest against ris­ing taxes and the high cost of liv­ing turned into a riot as po­lice fired tear gas and wa­ter can­non in street bat­tles with ac­tivists.

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