A call for social justice and the ousting of President Emmanuel Macron has been demanded by anti-government protesters seeking to inject fresh momentum into demonstrations as they clashed with the French police, AFP reported on Saturday, September 7th.
The "yellow vest" movement had tapered off over the summer, but its leaders hope to galvanise support for a fresh wave of rallies across the country as the government begins a reform of France's retirement system.
Around 2,000 people gathered in the city centre, but organisers put their numbers at closer to 5,000, according to officials in the southern city of Montpellier
Tear gas was fired by the officers to try to disperse the crowd, and a firebomb wrecked an unoccupied police car, whereas, several storefronts were vandalised and police said seven people had been detained during clashes between police and protesters.
The region's officials blamed what it said were around 500 members of the Black Bloc for the violence.
Moreover, organisers of the protests had called for a major demonstration in Montpellier, long a stronghold of the movement.
Meanwhile, smaller rallies took place in other cities around France, including Paris, Marseille, Rouen, Lille, Strasbourg, Dijon and Toulouse.
There were clashes in the northern city of Rouen, where around 500 demonstrators turned out, including members of the CGT trades union. Police arrested 26 people and cautioned 111.
Police said 650 people turned out in the northern city of Lille in a march that passed off peacefully while calling for the government to drastically change its policies and stating that radical change can only come when this government resigns.
The yellow vest movement began last November, triggered by anger over a fuel tax increase, and quickly evolved into a broader movement against Macron, accused of ignoring the day-to-day struggles of low-income earners in small-town and rural France.
After attracting 282,000 people nationwide at the first day of protest on November 17th, their numbers had fallen sharply by last spring, and only sporadic protests were seen over the summer, according to AFP.