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Clashes in Paris for eighth round of 'yellow vest' protests
Some 50,000 “Yellow vest” protesters returned to the streets of France on Saturday as the government moved to denounce those still demonstrating as hardliners who are out to bring down the government.
About 1,000 protesters gathered on the iconic Champs-Elysees in Paris, according to the AFP news agency, with some 15 police vans deployed.
Tear gas was fired in the capital after protesters threw projectiles at security forces. Journalists with AFP also saw scuffles near the Seine as some 4,000 people joined the protest in the afternoon, according to the police.
Bins were set ablaze and several motorcycles were torched, according to AFP.
Protester Ghislaine told AFP that she took to the streets to “defend the right” of her children to work that provides enough for them to eat.
“My daughter earns 800 euros a month. She works 25 hours a week in a baker’s. For her, it’s about surviving,” the 58-year-old demonstrator told AFP.
“Yellow vests” from across France met in Marseille on Saturday and announced the creation of a group called, “Yellow vests, the movement”.
The meeting was held in a building provided by Bernard Tapie, the principal owner of the La Provence newspaper.
The movement was said to not resemble any type of political party or trade union, but to “work towards the creation of a real social programme”, according to Hayk Shahinyan, one of the movement’s co-founders.
Outside the capital
“Yellow vest” protesters blocked the A7 motorway in Lyon, according to AFP. The road was blocked in both directions after a group of protesters peeled away from the main demonstration.
In Rouen, some 2,000 protesters gathered, two arrests were made and one protester was injured by a projectile when a barricade was set fire.
The authorities put Saturday’s turnout across the country at around 12,000, compared to more than 280,000 for the initial demonstration on 17 November.
Four people were arrested in the northeastern city of Nancy following attempts by some 50 demonstrators to block the entry of newspaper L’Est Republicain.
The government on Friday labelled those still demonstrating as “agitators” who are set on overthrowing the government and creating an “insurrection”, according to spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux.
Opinion polls published on Thursday suggest that a majority of French people still support the “yellow vests” with an Odoxa Dentsu survey saying 55 per cent support continuing protests.
The “yellow vest” protests – named after the obligatory high-visibility jackets carried by French motorists – began over increased fuel taxes. The demonstrations have morphed into a wider protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.