Gilets Jaunes: Violence in Paris as protests continue

Thousands of protesters turned out in Paris, where some demonstrations turned violent

Gilets Jaunes fuel protests have continued across France this weekend, with police officers in Paris using tear gas and water cannon to disperse escalating far-right violence near the Champs-Élysées.

According to police in the capital, the incidents happened on Saturday (November 24) as around 100 far-right protesters began to harass law enforcement officers and breach police barriers.

The situation turned violent as demonstrators began tearing up paving stones, setting fire to vehicles, and throwing objects towards police. Windows of several shops were also smashed.

Demonstrators were wearing the signature yellow vests of the Gilets Jaunes fuel protesters, but authorities have since suggested that many present were also members of an extreme far-right movement.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to force the protesters to move backwards, and the Champs-Élysées and Concorde areas of the city were completely barricaded.

President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the violence.

Other Gilets Jaunes protests continued to take place elsewhere across the country, especially on major motorways and at péage road payment stations.

There were also violent scuffles in Villefranche-sur-Saône (Rhône).

By Saturday night, 69 people had been taken into police custody in Paris, with 130 arrests in total across France.

Protests continued into the evening, with calm declared just after midnight.

One demonstrator, who protested on the Champs-de-Mars - the only place in Paris on Saturday with official authorisation for a protest - sought to distance the original Gilets Jaunes movement from the violence.

Speaking to the Agence France-Presse, Laetitia Dewalle, who called herself a Gilets Jaunes “spokeswoman”, said: “We are not here to attack police, we came so that the government understands us; understands its people. We condemn the violence of these pseudo-protesters.”

Bruno Retailleau, of opposition political party Les Républicains and senator for the Vendée, said today (Sunday November 25) that President Macron is “reaping what he has sown”.

He said: “Emmanuel Macron has found himself alone against the French. When you act like you’re Louis XIV, you can expect to get pushback.

“The French are supporting the Gilets Jaunes because Mr Macron promised them a new world, but they are seeing that this is not producing results.”

Yet, the number of protests appears to be decreasing.

Estimates suggest that over 106,000 people came out to protest across France on Saturday, of which 8,000 were in Paris. This is just over a third of the number - over 282,000 - who came out in force nationally last Saturday (November 17); the main day of blockades.

Minister for the interior, Christophe Castaner, said the movement had suffered “a serious weakening in commitment” of protesters.

He said that in Paris “the damage was minimal; cosmetic”, and that the movements had degenerated into “two kinds of protesters”.

The first are protesting in a “good kid” atmosphere, he said, while others have committed “serious acts” of violence in Paris. He later thanked law enforcement for maintaining order.

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