Yellow vest movement: Paris police fire tear gas at protesters

Lester Mason
December 8, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron's government has warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalized and rebellious" crowds and become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

Hundreds of businesses around Paris - especially those around the Champs-Elysees shopping district - are expected to close this weekend as well.

Blocked by police, they tried other routes.

The protests began on Nov 17 with road blockades against rising fuel prices but have since ballooned into a mass movement against Macron's policies and top-down style of governing.

Hello and welcome to the Guardian's live coverage of the fourth weekend of gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests in France.

French police, wearing riot gear, tried to stop and search protesters entering the Champs Elysees, but such efforts were eventually abandoned with the flow of thousands of demonstrators.

The teens, majority wearing backpacks, stood in stark contrast to the heavily armed police officers, accused online of "inhuman treatment".

The Eiffel Tower and famous museums the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre are closed.

A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday.

One participant, Christophe Chalancon, told reporters the prime minister "listened to us". "Some ultra-violent people want to take part".

Almost 90,000 police and gendarmes have been mobilised across the country, around 8,000 of them in the capital, officials have said, alongside a dozen VBRG armoured vehicles.

Foreign governments are watching developments closely in one of the world's most visited cities.

In a warning of impending violence, an MP for Macron's party, Benoit Potterie, received a bullet in the mail on Friday with the words: "Next time it will be between your eyes".


Macron announced earlier this week that the planned hikes in petrol and diesel taxes, which sparked the protest movement, would be cancelled outright.

But many "yellow vests" have urged fresh protests this weekend, claiming a series of of government concessions do not go far enough.

Footage showing the brutal arrest of high school students protesting outside Paris is causing a stir ahead of further anti-government protests this weekend.

The hardline CGT union, hoping to capitalise on the movement, has called for rail and metro strikes next Friday to demand immediate wage and pension increases.

Students across France have joined the protests that have escalated over the past few weeks.

Since then the movement has snowballed into a wider revolt against former investment banker Macron. Taxes are going up - housing, heating costs, cars.

USA president Donald Trump on Saturday once again attacked the Paris agreement on fighting climate change, citing the ongoing protests in the French capital as proof that his decision to reject the pact was sound.

Nonetheless, the 40-year-old Macron, whose popularity is at a low ebb according to polls, has been forced into making the first major U-turn of his presidency by abandoning a fuel tax.

Macron himself, the target of much of the protesters' anger, has been largely invisible in recent days, leaving his prime minister and government to try to negotiate with protesters.

Since the unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in violence related to the protests.

Many shops were boarded up to avoid looting and street furniture and construction site materials have been removed to prevent them from being used as projectiles.

"It's with an huge sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a statement.

Authorities have detained 343 people already Saturday amid exceptional security and filtration measures.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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