Sunday, 3 Jul 2022

Paris Police Fire Tear Gas and Water Cannons at ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters

PARIS — The police in Paris used tear gas and water cannons on Saturday to try to disperse protesters in “yellow vests” who were part of another wave of nationwide rallies and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.

Clashes broke out on the Champs-Élysées after the police set up security cordons around sensitive sites in the center of the capital.

Some protesters sang the national anthem while others carried signs with slogans saying “Macron, resignation” and “Macron, thief,” according to the Reuters news agency.

France deployed thousands of police officers amid mounting tensions around a grass-roots movement that drew more than a quarter-million people to demonstrations across the country a week ago — from Provence to Normandy and in between.

The new wave of protests planned for Saturday included gatherings beneath the Eiffel Tower. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had called for calm and promised tough police measures against unruly crowds.

Paris had been scheduled to deploy some 3,000 security forces, notably around tourist-frequented areas like the Champs-Élysées, after an unauthorized attempt this past week to march on the presidential palace.

Two people were killed and hundreds injured in the week of protests, which are posing a big challenge to Mr. Macron.

The authorities are struggling because the movement has no clear leader and has attracted a motley group of people with broadly varying demands. The protesters call themselves the “yellow jackets” after the fluorescent security vests that drivers are required to keep in their vehicles.

A man caused a dramatic standoff with police officers on Friday when he donned a fluorescent vest and brandished an apparent grenade at a supermarket in the western city of Angers. He was later arrested.

Most of the protesters’ anger is focused on the president, a pro-business centrist accused of indifference to the struggles of ordinary people.

Mr. Macron has defended the fuel taxes as necessary to reduce France’s dependence on fossil fuels, but he promised to lay out new plans on Tuesday to make the “energy transition” easier.

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