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Clashes, Tear Gas, Water Cannon on First Yellow Vest Anniversary


7Dnews London

Sun, 17 Nov 2019 11:08 GMT

France's yellow vests movement (‘gilets jaunes’) marks on Sunday November 17th its one-year anniversary since protests began in November 2018 amid anger over an increase in fuel taxes which then snowballed into a general anti-government protest.

A year after their first demonstration, protesters were back out on the streets on Saturday November 16th, waging hit-and-run clashes with police. Rubbish bins and cars were set on fire, while police fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to quell the protests.

Clashes also broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters prepared to march across town towards the Gare d'Austerlitz, according to Reuters.

A total of 28,000 people demonstrated across France on Saturday including 4,700 in Paris, the Interior Ministry said. In Paris, police detained 124 people for questioning and 78 people were taken into custody, the authorities said.

Paris police prefect Didier Lallement cancelled permission for a scheduled demonstration in view of the violence. Protests have been banned near tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower and 20 subway stations were closed on Saturday.

Yellow vest demonstrations in other cities were largely peaceful, with 1,000 people marching in Marseille in southern France.

The yellow vest movement has been one of the toughest challenges during President Emmanuel Macron's presidency. Earlier this year, the French president responded by launching a national citizens’ debate, offering concessions like tax cuts and a rise in the minimum wage.  

To revive the movement, yellow vests may join a broader labour strike next month as trade unions have called on railway workers, Paris public transport staff, lorry drivers and civil servants to strike against the pensions overhaul on December 5th and in some cases beyond that date.