Riot debris covers Paris streets; 133 injured, 412 arrested

03 December, 2018, 15:51 | Author: Tara Reeves
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Protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, stand near a burning barricade as they face off with riot police during clashes in Paris, France, December 1, 2018.

In Paris, police said they had arrested nearly 300 people while 110 were injured, including 20 members of the security forces. They said they'd seen police allow protesters into confined areas and then not let them out after firing tear gas, and threatening to fire rubber bullets on peaceful protesters. Activists torched cars, banks and houses; smashed windows, looted stores, threw rocks at police and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti.

French President Emmanuel Macron called a crisis meeting of senior colleagues and security chiefs on Sunday after ferocious violence during fuel tax protests left the heart of Paris resembling a war zone.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe holds talks with party leaders on Monday as Paris scrambles to forge a response to violence by anti-government protesters that has left hundreds injured nationwide and caused widespread destruction around the capital.

The protesters have no apparent leaders, making it hard for the French government to negotiate or meet with them.

"It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence".

Mrs Belloubet said: "When there are not only defacements that are absolutely unacceptable in our republic, I think of what happened at the Arc de Triomphe, when there are fires, not only cars - there have been 55 vehicles burned but also buildings that have been burned, when there are attacks on people, including I think a rape, these are elements that can not be acceptable in our republic".

Macron is expected to hold an emergency meeting with the prime minister and interior minister later on Sunday.

Protesters, including some wearing black hoodies, piled up large plywood planks and other material in the middle of a street near the Arc de Triomphe, and set the debris on fire.

The "yellow vest" protests began as a backlash against Macron's fuel tax hikes, but have tapped into a vein of deep dissatisfaction felt towards the 40-year-old's economic reforms, which many voters feel favor the wealthy and big business.

But the protests have evolved into a broader demonstration against French President Emmanuel Macron, his government and tensions between the metropolitan elite and rural poor.

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Dozens of cars were torched by the gangs of rioters, some of whom wore gas masks and ski goggles to lessen the effects of tear gas fired by police.

The yellow vest rebellion erupted out of nowhere on November 17, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to some shopping malls, fuel depots, and airports.

French authorities blamed the swatch of destruction on a few "troublemakers" who mixed in with thousands of peaceful protesters intending to take over the Champs-Elysees for a second weekend in a row, in an effort to send a message to the French government.

"He has to come down off his pedestal", she said under cold rain on the Champs Elysees.

"Those responsible for this violence don't want change or improvement, they want chaos", Macron said in Buenos Aires.

On Saturday, some targeted the Arc de Triomphe, chanting "Macron Resign" and scrawling on the facade of the towering 19th-century arch: "The yellow vests will triumph".

The minister for the Interior, Christophe Castaner, condemned the violence as "a professional strategy of disorder".

"I am totally behind the "Gilets Jaunes"," said George DuPont, a resident in Paris' upscale 16th arrondissement.

The movement, which does not have any leaders, was named after the fluorescent jackets worn by protesters, which motorists must keep in their cars by law.

Six buildings were set ablaze, and almost 190 fires were put out, the interior ministry said.

"We are ready to talk to them everywhere and the door is open to them", Griveaux said.

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