Gilets jaunes: Violence condemned as protests resurge

Thousands gathered in Paris and across the rest of France in the latest "Act" of gilets jaunes protests

A new wave of gilets jaunes protests has rocked France this weekend (January 5), as French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the violence of the “Acte 8” movement as an “attack on the Republic”.

In the eighth weekend of protests, official figures from the ministry for the Interior suggest that over 3,500 protested through Paris with clashes turning violent in the afternoon.

Over 50,000 people were estimated across the whole of France this weekend, compared to 32,000 people on December 29; 38,600 on December 22; and the peak of 282,000 on November 17.

In Paris, a peaceful protest in the morning ran from Place de l'Étoile to Place de la Bourse, but in the afternoon a movement from Place de l'Hôtel de Ville to the Assemblée Nationale broke down.

Vehicles were torched, fences pulled down, European flags burned, and projectiles were thrown at law enforcement officers. One gendarme officer in particular was assaulted, by a man that some reports suggest is a professional boxer.

An attack on the offices of government spokesperson, Benjamin Griveaux, prompted President Macron to denounce the “extreme violence”, calling on “each person’s responsibility” to “respect the law”.

In Paris, around 24 people were taken into police custody.

Across the rest of France, protesters gathered, especially in Bordeaux (5,000 people), Caen (3,000), Toulouse (2,000), Dijon (2,500) and Valence (2,500).

Most major towns saw some form of protest on Saturday, including some areas that saw mainly peaceful gatherings on motorways, roundabouts, and in front of government buildings.

Violence erupted in several cities including Toulouse and Montpellier, with glass bottles thrown and shop windows smashed. Tear gas was used in several places, including in Saint-Etienne (Loire), Rouen (Seine-Maritime) and Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).

Over 3,600 CRS officers and gendarmerie were mobilised across the country.

Yves Lefebvre, general secretary of police union Unité-SGP Police FO, called for an end to the violence nationwide, but also for politicians - such as opposition leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon - to stop calling the police “political” or “fascist”.

He said: “We are just here to respect the laws of the Republic…[but] politicians must stop adding fuel to the fire. It is criminal. You cannot say those things when you are aiming to become President.

“[Mélenchon] has [effectively] called on people to kill police officers, when he says that he is proud of people who are ‘expressing themselves’.”

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