Police employ tear gas & water cannons as Yellow Vest protests enter 9th week (VIDEOS)
Yellow Vest demonstrators returned to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Saturday, and some were met by police with tear gas and water cannons as the authorities pledged zero tolerance to violence.
More than 84,000 people took part in the protests in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lyon, Strasbourg, and other cities, according to Interior Ministry data.
Around 8,000 demonstrators, both locals and those coming from other parts of the country, were rallying in the French capital. Some 5,000 riot police with special equipment and armored vehicles oversaw the protests.
Clashes eventually erupted at the iconic Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, with police using tear gas and water cannons to calm the angry crowds. In Paris alone, 156 people were arrested during the standoff, with most of them put in custody, the law enforcers said.
"We've come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves at least once what's going on here," a man, who travelled to Paris from western France to attend the protest, told AFP.
Around 1,000 demonstrators also made their way to the hippodrome and caused a delay of races in the horseracing town of Chantilly, north of Paris.
UPDATE - The Yellow Vests protesters are now leaving the course, with the meeting at @fgchantilly still set to go ahead but only the first 4 races to be held.Great effort from the staff to get the meeting back underway - There had originally been 9 races scheduled for today. pic.twitter.com/tS4HZqXtaH— Sun Racing (@SunRacing) January 12, 2019
In Nimes, police deployed tear gas against protesters after a tense standoff in the downtown.
Tensions entre les #giletsjaunes et les #crs à Nîmes ce samedi 12 janvier ! #manif@MuseeRomanitepic.twitter.com/SVUXnHiCH2— ObjectifGard (@objectifgard) January 12, 2019
In Toulouse a barricade in the center of the city was set on fire.
Une énorme barricade à été érigée place Wilson #GiletsJaunes#toulousepic.twitter.com/wkUj1RMXQi— Frédéric RT France (@frederic_RTfr) January 12, 2019
17 people were also arrested during clashes in Bourges in central France, where the local authorities said that 5,000 were rallying.
Bourges #ActeIX#GiletsJaunes @LeMediaTV pic.twitter.com/H09AvrdDum— Aude Lancelin (@alancelin) January 12, 2019
The French government earlier vowed zero tolerance for violence at the protests, with 80,000 security personnel deployed across France on the weekend.
Un cortège s'est réformé après les heurts avec les forces de l'ordre #GiletsJaunes#ActeIX#toulousepic.twitter.com/TUVzzkse4E— Frédéric RT France (@frederic_RTfr) January 12, 2019
The Yellow Vest movement, which took its name from the high-visibility jackets worn by the demonstrators, kicked off in November over a government-proposed hike in fuel taxes. As the weekend protests saw more people participating and started turning violent, the government dropped the planned increase.
But the demonstrations continued as the movement morphed into wider discontent with President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business agenda, a decline in living standards, and growing inequality.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!