Thursday 19 September 2019

French tax protesters in fresh clash with police in Paris

The ‘yellow jackets’ demonstrations have carried on for a third straight weekend.

Masked demonstrators wearing yellow jackets appear through tear gas near the Champs-Elysees (AP)
Masked demonstrators wearing yellow jackets appear through tear gas near the Champs-Elysees (AP)

By Sylvie Corbet

Scuffles have broken out between police and some French protesters angry over rising taxes for a third straight weekend, after small pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the streets of central Paris and lit fires.

Thousands of police were deployed to try to contain the protests on and around the famed Champs-Elysees avenue.

Most of the protesters, called “yellow jackets” after the fluorescent vests they wear, were peaceful.

But others mixed in with them wore black hoodies and piled up construction materials, including large plywood planks, in the middle of a street near the Arc de Triomphe, and set the debris on fire.

This is the third straight weekend of the protests (AP)

Police responded by firing bursts from a water cannon with back-up from riot officers, who used tear gas on the protesters.

In addition to rising taxes, demonstrators are furious about President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership.

A demonstration last weekend in Paris also turned violent.

Earlier on Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at the top of the Champs-Elysees. Access to the avenue was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds as some tried to force their way through.

Hundreds of people are demonstrating across France over the rising cost of living (AP)

The protests, which began with motorists demonstrating against a fuel tax hike, now involve a broad range of demands related to the country’s high cost of living.

Shopkeepers on the Champs-Elysees prepared for possible new violence, bringing in workers to barricade boutique windows with boards. Decorative iron grates, used last week in barricades, were removed from around trees and outdoor terraces were dismantled.

All subway stations in and around the famous avenue were closed for security reasons, Paris public transport company RATP said.

Last week, French authorities said 8,000 people demonstrated on the Champs-Elysees avenue. Some of the protesters torched barriers and plywood boards. Police fired tear gas and water cannon to push back angry demonstrators.

Since the protests kicked off on November 17, two people were killed and hundreds have been injured in accidents stemming from the protests, and hundreds of protesters and police have also been injured.

Meanwhile, hundreds of road blockades were also held across the country.

PA Media

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