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Gilets jaunes: 84,000 come out in France for Acte 10

Over 84,000 people came out across France this Saturday (January 19), for the gilets jaunes' “Acte 10”, around the same number as last weekend, according to government figures.

Paris saw slightly fewer people; with 7,000 compared to the 8,000 who came out last Saturday (January 12). Toulouse saw over 10,000 - a number that local authorities are dubbing a “record” for the Occitanie city since the movement began on November 17, 2018.

Protesters themselves have claimed that the ministry of the Interior figures for this weekend are a conservative estimate, and that many more people were in fact present across France.

This weekend was notably peaceful and quiet, police said, with less damage or violence than seen during previous “Actes”.

In Paris, the protests followed pre-agreed routes, with all three major movements in the capital having been declared legally to the police ahead of time. Tens of protesters worked in tandem with the police to help direct the march, wearing white armbands to stand out.

Loïc Travers, national secretary of police union Alliance, said: “This is what we have wanted since the beginning of the movement, to help move protesters easily and give responsibility to the organisers.”

In Paris, some peaceful protesters got creative with banners and placards, with one group carrying signs in the shape of black coffins to honour the people who have died due to the protests since November 17.

Others carried signs showing a traditional drawing of La Marianne, but giving her one severely injured eye, alongside the slogan “Liberté, Egalité, Flash-ball”, in reference to the controversial weapon used by police during some incidents.

At the biggest single protest in Toulouse, around 10 arrests were made following scuffles in the city.

The famous Capitole building in the city centre was slightly burned and graffitied - with some protesters throwing paintballs - while some shop and bank windows nearby were smashed.

One armoured police vehicle was deployed, and water cannon and teargas was also used.

In Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain), it was confirmed that police officers equipped with flash-ball weapons had also been wearing cameras on their armour. This would allow police to see “what the officer sees, and the exact context of the [flash-ball] throw”, said local police commissioner Yves Cellier.

Rumours also circulated immediately after the protests that one woman had died during a protest in Rennes; but she had in fact had a severe asthma attack, was taken to hospital, and survived.

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