Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Violence Marks 18th Round of Protests as Police and "Yellow Vests" Clash

Yellow Vests protest in Paris on 16 March Macron Yellow Vests Want to'Destroy Republic, Recent Rally Not Demonstration Sputnik Irina Kalashnikova
Jeannette Daniel | 18 March, 2019, 12:48

By dusk, as the demonstrators had dispersed, the famed avenue was a blackened expanse.

Police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of Saturday's unrest.

Police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial, which had already been sacked on December 1.

A Banque Tarneaud branch spewed flames before firefighters arrived and rescued a woman and her infant from the building, with 11 suffering minor injuries, the fire department said.

Paris on Saturday saw a second ultra-violent Yellow Vest protest.

After weeks of declining participation, France's "yellow vest" protest movement attempted to rebound with a major rally in Paris which quickly turned violent.

"It was hot air".

European parliamentarian Nadine Morano, of the right-wing Republicans party, got in a stinging blow, tweeting about Macron enjoying himself on the ski slopes while "Paris is on fire". "Macron has given us no great solutions", said protester Francine Sevigny from Lyon.

"Some feel that the violence is legitimate - that's the big drama of what this whole movement has brought us", he told broadcaster France Inter on Sunday, noting that it is the first time since the 1968 student riots in Paris that violence has returned as a legitimate mode of action. Several protesters smiled as they posed for a photo in front of one the charred remains of the kiosks.

Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, smashing and pillaging shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste, and tossing mannequins out of broken windows.

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Rioters also set fire to an upmarket handbag store and badly damaged Fouquet's restaurant before setting fire to the famous brasserie's canvas awning.

French Yellow Vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police on Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who visited the scene said: "Like the vast majority of French people, I feel very angry today".

A separate, peaceful march against climate change through central Paris drew as many 36,000 people, the interior ministry estimated.

A Yellow Vest protester holds up a placard reading "In tribute to the Yellow Vests protesters that have died and been wounded since 17.11.18" on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on March 16, 2019, during the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the "Yellow Vest" (gilets jaunes) movement.

Since then, repeated rioting by the protesters and economic concessions by Macron have diminished public support for the yellow vests.

Authorities and some protesters blamed black bloc extremists who come to demonstrations with the express goal of attacking police and damaging property.

The yellow vest groups represented teachers, unemployed people and labour unions. It also marks the end of a two-month national debate that Macron organized to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

Chris den Hond, Milos Krivokapic, Catherine Gaschka and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed.

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