VIOLENCE erupted in central Paris yesterday as thousands rallied to mark the first anniversary of France’s Yellow Vest protest movement.
Tear gas and baton charges were used by police around the historic Place d’Italie, where protesters were preparing to join a march.
Violence erupted in central Paris yesterday on the first anniversary of the Yellow Vest protest movement[/caption]
Tear gas and baton charges were used by police around the historic Place d’Italie[/caption]
Thousands rallied to mark the one-year anniversary of the protest group[/caption]
‘Barricades have been set on fire and we have come under attack,’ said an officer at the scene, who confirmed that they were responding with tear gas.
‘The situation is extremely tense,’ the officer added, confirming that controversial flash ball guns had also been deployed.
There were 19 arrests by 10am, with 1222 ‘preventative searches’ carried out by police.
The so-called Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) are named after their trademark high-visibility motoring jackets.
They are already one of the most effective protest groups in French history, having rallied tens of thousands across the country using social media.
Following their first mass demonstration against fuel prices in Paris a year ago, the government announced billions of pounds-worth of tax breaks.
But, despite the concessions by President Emmanuel Macron, the Yellow Vests said they wanted more.
Violent protests continued, causing millions of pounds worth of damage to high-profile tourists sites including the Arc de Triomphe itself.
The Champs Elysee was the scene of mass rioting, with café, restaurants, and designer shops smashed in and looted.
‘We want Macron out, and a change in the system of government,’ said Eleanor Bisset, a 19-year-old student who was marching today.
‘Direct democracy is our main aim – we want everybody to have a say in the decisions that our made on our behalf.’
Official figures show that 2,500 demonstrators have been wounded during the protests, which have continued each Saturday for a year.
Those wounded have included 24 protesters who have lost an eye, and five who have lost a hand because of police weapons.
Two police officers are set to stand trial over alleged violence against protesters, while up to 1800 police officers have suffered serious injuries.
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After being caught out by the speed and effectiveness of last year’s protests, Mr Macron and his government are now trying to contain it.
A poll for Le Figaro this week found 69 per cent of the French believe the Yellow Vest movement is justified in its protest.
The independent Mr Macron came to power in 2017 pledging to reform France, and make it a fairer and more equal country, but the ex-mechant banker is still frequently referred to as the ‘President of the Rich’.
The protests led to 19 arrests by 10am, with 1222 ‘preventative searches’ carried out by police[/caption]
The Champs Elysee was the scene of mass rioting, with café, restaurants, and designer shops smashed in and looted[/caption]
The Yellow Jackets are already one of the most effective protest groups in French history[/caption]
Official figures show that 2,500 demonstrators have been wounded during the protests, which have continued each Saturday for a year[/caption]
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