Violent Yellow Vest ‘Insurrection’ Leaves Hundreds Injured in Paris
More than 75,000 protested across France in the third weekend of the Yellow Vest rallies.
Violent protests by the Yellow Vest movement in Paris and across France have left hundreds of demonstrators and police officers injured, and have even been likened to an “insurrection” by a local mayor.
The so called “Yellow Vest” protests were staged for a third weekend in a row all over France by people angry with French President Emmanuel Macron over his fuel tax hikes.
In a recent speech following last weekend’s rallies, Macron stayed the course, and thus failed to appease the protesters.
Saturday’s Yellow Vest rallies attracted some 75,000 people across France, according to the French Interior Ministry, France24 reports.
The protesters once again built barricades in downtown Paris, lit fires, including a large stake in the middle of a street near Arc de Triomphe, and hurled rocks at the riot police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons.
“We yygare in a state of insurrection, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Jeanne d’Hauteserre, the mayor of Paris’ 8th district, near the Arc de Triomphe.
At least 133 people, including 23 police officers, were injured in the skirmishes in Paris on Saturday.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that 378 Yellow Vest demonstrators had been arrested. He put the blame for the unruly situation on “1,500 troublemakers” gathered around the Champs-Elysées avenue.
Police sources were quoted as saying that protesters had stolen an assault rifle from a police van. The demonstrators also smashed store windows leading to the evacuation of Paris’s Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.
“Yellow Vest” protest clashes also broke out in other cities and towns across France: Nantes in the west, Toulouse and Tarbes in the southwest, Puy-en-Velay in Central France, Charleville Mezieres in the northeast, and Avignon in the southeast.
The unrest led French Prime Minister Philippe to cancel a planned trip to Poland on Monday for a climate change conference.
“I will always listen to opposition, but I will never accept violence,” Macron said at press conference at the G20 summit in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on Saturday evening.
Two people have been killed since France’s Yellow Vest protests began on November 17.
Saturday’s violence erupted after on Friday the French government unsuccessfully tried to talk to representatives of the Yellow Vest movement.
The movement is organized through social media and technically has no appointed leaders. Philippe invited eight of its representatives for talks on Friday. Only two arrived, and one left after finding out TV crews were not allowed to film the conversations.
(Banner image: TV grab from France24)