Tuesday 17 September 2019

Macron attacks 'shameful' protesters after Paris riots

Graffiti: Pedestrians walk by a board tagged with ‘Macron resign’ at the Champs-Élysées in the aftermath of a rally by protesters against higher fuel prices in Paris. Photo: Reuters
Graffiti: Pedestrians walk by a board tagged with ‘Macron resign’ at the Champs-Élysées in the aftermath of a rally by protesters against higher fuel prices in Paris. Photo: Reuters

Colin Drury

They came in their tens of thousands, for a second weekend running, demanding change and demonstrating against escalating costs of living and rising inequalities.

"We just want our government to listen to us," said Laetitia Dewalle, an organiser of the "yellow vest" protests which brought cities across France to a standstill on Saturday.

As the protests turned violent and demonstrators clashed with police, President Emmanuel Macron appeared unwilling to engage with the reasons behind why 109,000 had taken to streets.

"Shame on all the people who assaulted [the police]," he tweeted. "Shame to those who voluntarily assaulted citizens and reporters. Shame on those who tried to intimidate our elected officials."

His interior minister Christophe Castaner went further, calling the protesters "seditious" and labelling them supporters of the far right.

The abrasive statements followed a day in which tear gas and water cannons were turned on marchers in Paris - a minority of whom were seen ripping up pavements, building street blockades and starting fires.

A protester waves a French flag during riots on the famous avenue on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
A protester waves a French flag during riots on the famous avenue on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

The Champs-Élysées was brought to a standstill as battles under cover of smoke took place.

At one point, demonstrators set fire to a shed on wheels and rolled it towards officers protecting key sites.

Some 42 people were arrested in Paris and another 88 across the country.

The protests started as an outcry against the rising cost of fuel duty which, in some cases, has gone up by 23pc in just 12 months.

But it has since grown to reflect wider grievances about the rising cost of living and anger at Mr Macron.

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