Friday, 13 December, 2019


Clashes in Paris as yellow vests mark first anniversary

The government fears hospital staff could join other disgruntled groups such as transport workers who are planning mass strike action in December France’s yellow vest movement marks 1 year of protests
Bennie Garza | 17 November, 2019, 08:26

Police have confirmed that at least 33 people have already been arrested today, while they have carried out "more than 1,000 checks".

The demonstrations left 11 people dead and more than 4,000 injured, including protesters and the police, according to the French government.

They set rubbish bins on fire, hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police, and erected barricades.

But the march that was supposed to set off from Place d'Italie in the 13th arondissement was called off after a group of demonstrators - mostly young men dressed in black and masked - gathered in the square and smashed up the street furniture and set cars alight.

Police also fired tear gas in the Les Halles area, near the famed Pompidou Centre museum.

Police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road.

Associated Press reporters covering the demonstrations did not see any violence or other action from protesters to provoke the police charge.

Earlier this month, around 600 Yellow Vests from all over France met in the southern city of Montpellier to discuss the movement's future and plans for its first anniversary.

The protests first erupted in November previous year over fuel price rises, but grew to cover wider grievances, including stagnating wages, living costs and economic inequality.

However, the street protests quickly spiralled into a broader movement against the French President.

There were clashes in other French cities as activists rallied to prove their movement is still a force to be reckoned with, a year after the first giant protest on November 17, 2018.

Police have managed to dislodge protesters trying to block the bypass around Paris in the morning and were progressively evacuating Place d'Italie during the afternoon.

The protests have lost strength in recent months but leaders called for people to turn out on Saturday to mark the anniversary.

Some 105 people had been taken in for questioning, he said.

Protests have been banned near tourists spots such as the Eiffel Tower and many Métro stations were closed on Saturday.

The yellow vest crisis forced Macron to make policy concessions and delay the next big wave of reforms, including overhauling the pension and unemployment systems. "We are going to look for a quieter place".

Numbers attending the protests and levels of violence have sharply diminished from the height of the movement, which began on the back of frustration Macron was failing to address the needs of ordinary French people.

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