Macron seeks new dialogue with protest representatives after Paris riot

03 December, 2018, 23:28 | Author: Bert Pena
  • A demonstrator leaves as water cannons evacuate the Place de l'Etoile on Saturday December 1 in Paris

Clashes between police and demonstrators wearing the high-visibility yellow vests broke out soon after crowds began gathering near the Arc de Triomphe on Dec 1, 2018.

Around 50 people blocked the fuel depot in the port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille, where police have repeatedly intervened to dislodge demonstrators since small-town and rural France erupted in protests over rising living costs on November 17.

After hundreds of people were arrested and injured during Saturdays' Yellow Vest protests, government is now mulling all options as a response. Police fired tear gas and using water cannons against demonstrators who set up barricades and tried to approach government buildings.

In Paris, police said they had arrested more than 400 people while 133 were injured, including 23 members of the security forces.

President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency meeting on security with Philippe on Sunday, and the government hasn't ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency. Macron, who has returned to his country from the G-20 summit meeting in Argentina, told media that those responsible for the violence and the damages will be held accountable.

Authorities were caught off guard by Saturday's escalation in violence overshadowing the spontaneous protest movement, dubbed the "yellow vests" because many participants are wearing the fluorescent safety jackets kept in all cars in France.

"Of all the things that happened, the arson attacks, the attacks on the police, the attacks on the shops in the Champs Elysees, it is the Arc de Triomphe and the graffiti that was pasted over it, that is the biggest offence, as far as the administration is concerned", he said.

"We found at her home grenade pellets", Mr Tarabeux said, but added that "at this stage, we cannot establish a causal link between the injury and the death".

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The prefect of Paris, Michel Delpuech, told reporters late Sunday that the police had been faced with "extreme and unprecedented violence" and that protesters had thrown hammers and steel ball bearings at them.

France's failure to quell the anger has led to copycat yellow jacket movements in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Over 280,000 people took to the roads and streets in France two weeks ago to protest higher prices at the pump caused by a higher taxes on fuels that are part of Emmanuel Macron's government's plan to fight the effects of climate change.

Mr Macron said his fuel policies were needed to combat global warming.

Damage was particularly bad around the Arc de Triomphe as activists found themselves penned in for more than 12 hours. They said they'd seen police allow protesters into confined areas and then not let them out after firing tear gas, and threatening to fire rubber bullets on peaceful protesters.

Stores and restaurants along the Champs-Elysees as well as surrounding streets had boarded up windows, anticipating a repeat of the clashes last Saturday which Macron compared to "war scenes". The police used teargas, flash-balls and water cannons while some protesters responded with stone-throwing, flares and fireworks. The protests began last month with motorists upset over a fuel tax increase and have grown to include a range of complaints that Macron's government doesn't care about the problems of ordinary people.

"We're a peaceful movement, but we're disorganized - it's a mess because we don't have a leader", said Dan Lodi, a 68-year-old pensioner on the Champs-Elysees.

Rabah Mendez, a protester who came from a southern suburb to march peacefully in Paris, said "people say it's hard to reach the end of the month".

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