Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities Saturday in the 5th weekend of nationwide demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold off after a shooting in Strasbourg earlier this week.
In Paris, police were out in force to contain possible outbursts of violence. But several major stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette, were open to welcome Christmas shoppers.
On the Champs-Elysees, a handful of topless activists from the feminist protest group Femen faced security forces a few meters away from the Elysee Palace, the pPresident’s residence.
The Interior Minister said around 69,000 police officers were active on Saturday with a reinforced presence in the cities of Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.
Friday, President Macron, 40 anni, called for a return to calm in France after nearly a month of protests by the ‘yellow vest’ movement against his government’s policies. The demonstrations have hit growth and caused widespread disruption.
“France needs calm, order and a return to normal,” Mr. Macron said, after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
The ‘yellow vest’ movement started in mid-November with protests at junctions and roundabouts against fuel tax increases, but quickly became a wider mobilization against Mr. Macron’s economic policies.
Successive weekends of protests in Paris have lead to vandalism and violent clashes with security forces. P
aris police said 21 people were detained by mid-morning. Security forces in riot gear were positioned around central train stations and along the famed Champs-Elysees, where shops were closed and their windows boarded up in anticipation of the protests as hundreds of people began walking along the broad Parisian boulevard.