Yellow Vest protesters clash with police in fresh Paris rallies
Officials have vowed zero tolerance for the violence that has marred the weekly protests since they began two months ago, deploying some 80,000 security forces nationwide.
Protesters skirmished with police in Paris and other cities Saturday as thousands turned out for new rallies against French President Emmanuel Macron, with dozens arrested as officials vowed a crackdown on the violence that has marred the demonstrations since November.
The “yellow vest” marches began calmly amid a heavy police deployment of some 80,000 officers nationwide, with protesters singing the “Marseillaise” national anthem and holding signs including “Insecurity is not a job”.
But scores of protesters later clashed with riot police after arriving at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, prompting volleys of tear gas and water cannon as security forces prevented them from reaching the Champs-Elysees.
Around 84,000 protesters turned out for the ninth round of “yellow vest” rallies across France, up from 50,000 the previous week, the interior ministry said, adding that 244 people were detained.
Many of the central districts of the capital were on lockdown for the ninth straight Saturday of protests, which have picked up steam after a holiday lull.
Dozens of banks, jewellery stores and other shops were boarded up on the Champs-Elysees and elsewhere across the city, which have taken a heavy toll on businesses.
“We’ve come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves at least once what’s going on here,” said Patrick, 37, who told AFP he had travelled from the Savoie region.
Police said some 30 people had been detained in the capital earlier for carrying weapons or other charges.