Saturday, some yellow vest protesters clashed with French police firing tear gas after a peaceful march through Paris, as tougher security measures and protest bans in high-risk neighborhoods prevented the rioting that devastated the capital a week ago.
The 4-month-old movement drew bigger crowds Saturday than in recent weeks, even though last weekend’s violence hurt overall support for the cause.
The French protesters want more help for struggling French workers and retirees and say President Emmanuel Macron, 41 anni, favors the elite.
Thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully through Paris their 19th straight weekend of protests ending up at the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral overlooking the city from the historic Montmartre neighborhood.
Protesters sprayed yellow flares and unfurled a neon banner from atop the cathedral’s dome. .
Later tensions arose as clusters of masked protesters set garbage cans on fire and threw projectiles as they moved toward Republique Plaza in eastern Paris. Helmeted riot police fired tear gas in response.
At least 2,000 people have been injured in protest violence since the yellow vest movement began in November, and 11 people have been killed in protest-related road accidents.
Overall Saturday’s protests were calmer than a week ago, when resurgent violence reminded France’s government that they have failed to dampen yellow vest anger. Luxury shops were looted and ransacked last weekend around the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris and some were set on fire by protesters.
French authorities banned protests from the Champs-Elysees Avenue and the central neighborhoods of several other cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Rouen in western France.
The Champs-Elysees was almost empty Saturday except for a huge police presence. Fear of more violence certainly kept tourists away, and police shut down the Champs-Elysees subway stations as a precaution.
The new Paris police chief, Didier Lallement said specific police units were created to react faster to any violence.
About 6,000 police officers were deployed in the capital Saturday and 2 drones helped monitor the demonstrations. French authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites, allowing police to focus on maintaining order.
Saturday’s marchers held signs demanding more say for citizens in public policy.
The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.