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French yellow vest marches enter 19th weekend, as protestors banned from Champs-Elysées

More than 100 businesses were damaged last week weekend in Paris during yellow vest riots.
Mar 23rd 2019, 7:13 PM 15,407 42

France Protests Teargas is used to disperse demonstrators during minor clashes with police in Paris Source: Kamil Zihnioglu via PA Images

THOUSANDS OF POLICE have been out on the streets of Paris and other French cities today as the government faces intense pressure to avoid a repeat of the rioting that was seen during last week’s ‘yellow vest’ protests. 

Hundreds of demonstrators began marching shortly after midday in Paris for the 19th consecutive week of the yellow vest protests. 

Authorities have banned demonstrations in a large area in the west of the city, including the Champs-Elysées, after last weeks rioting. 

More than 100 businesses were damaged last week weekend in Paris, including dozens of luxury shops and restaurants on the Champs-Elysées.

Today, dozens of police vehicles, including armoured trucks and water cannons, encircled the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the avenue, while officers patrolled in front of boarded-up shop fronts. 

More than 40,000 people have taken to the streets of France for the protests today, 5,000 of them in the capital, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Over 50 people had been detained in Paris, while 29 were given fines for attending unauthorised protests, which the government this week hiked from €38 to €135.

France Protests Police create a cordon during a yellow vest protest in Nice, southeastern France Source: Claude Paris via PA Images

Protest bans were also in effect in the centres of Toulouse, Bordeaux, Dijon, Rennes and the southern city of Nice.

Clashes broke out in some other cities, including Nantes and Montpellier, though the Paris march was largely peaceful.

A 75-year-old woman was seriously injured in Nice when she fell and hit her head during a police charge.

Government criticism

French President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to avoid a repeat of last week’s events. 

The government has re-deployed soldiers from its Sentinelle anti-terror force to guard public buildings, freeing up the 6,000 deployed police in Paris to tackle any flare-ups of violence.

There was no sign of the soldiers in much of central Paris today. However, the move has drawn fierce criticism from opposition parties, who have accused the government of playing with fire.

Act 18th of Yellow Vests Protest - Paris Shop fronts damaged during last weekend's protests on the Champs-Elysées Source: Pauletto Francois/Avenir Pictures/ABACA

Macron’s government also came in for severe criticism over its handling of last week’s protests. 

The Paris police chief has since been fired over his handling of the violence. 

The protests began in rural France on November 17 over fuel tax increases and quickly ballooned into a full-scale anti-government rebellion.

In a Facebook video this week, Maxime Nicolle one of the movement’s figureheads, explained the periodic rioting in Paris and other cities as the result of “40 years of being beaten psychologically and financially” by successive governments.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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Hayley Halpin


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