Another Saturday in Paris: Smoke & scuffles, more than 140 Yellow Vests detained (VIDEO)
Saturday’s protest started with calm demonstrations but a few hours later tensions rose and police resorted to force against the rioters near the artistic Montmartre district in the north of the capital.
Scuffles also broke out near Madeleine Church, some 2km from Montmartre. Protesters were also seen near the iconic Louvre Museum and Sacre-Coeur Basilica.
Later, in the evening, a group of protesters tried to block traffic on the Champs Elysees. Riot police arrived on the scene and surrounded the area, attempting to disperse demonstrators.
Over 140 people were detained in Paris by 6 pm, including one Yellow Vests leader, a truck driver named Eric Drouet, for organizing an "illegal demonstration" that disrupted public traffic, wielding an "offensive weapon" and taking part in mob violence, according to a source from the prosecutor. 19 people were taken into custody.
Overall, at least 2,000 people in fluorescent marched through the capital. The number of participants in the streets had, however, almost halved in comparison to the previous Saturday.
As in previous weeks, the protests also spread beyond the capital. Across the entire country, some 38,600 protesters turned out, according to Interior Ministry estimates. A total of 220 arrests were made and 81 people were taken into police custody.
Some 300 demonstrators gathered in front of the city hall in Marseille. People also marched near a local police station, demanding the release of two Yellow Vests who had been detained earlier in the day.
In Lion, France's third largest city, hundreds of demonstrators sporting signature yellow vests marched through the streets, chanting: "Macron, Demission" [Macron, resign].
RT's Ruptly News Agency reported that from 500 to about 1,000 demonstrators took to the streets on Saturday. A video shows them clashing with police, who used smoke grenades and tear gas to disperse them.
A group of protesters attempted to break into the Euronews headquarters in the city, the media outlet reported. The protesters told the channel they wanted "to put right the lies spread by the media" and vowed to return to storm the building.
Protesters also gathered at the A9 highway toll of Le Boulou in southern France. Waving Catalan flags and carrying a banner saying “All united” the rally was apparently a nod to Friday's protests in Barcelona.
A demonstration in Nantes that drew some 800 people was marred by violence, leaving five police officers wounded, according to the local prefecture.
Protesters threw projectiles and reportedly launched "mortar fire" against the police, who responded with tear gas. Protesters also reportedly tried to smash the windows in the town hall.
France has been hit by a sixth consecutive weekend of Yellow Vest rallies. Previous protests turned violent, with demonstrators hurling stones and fireworks at police, while law enforcement resorted to using tear gas and water cannon. The mayhem has left almost 3,000 people, both protesters and police officers, injured. Over 4,500 have been detained and placed into custody since mid-November.
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