Police employ tear gas & water cannons as Yellow Vest protests enter 9th week (VIDEOS)
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.— Sun Racing (@SunRacing) January 12, 2019
Great effort from the staff to get the meeting back underway - There had originally been 9 races scheduled for today. pic.twitter.com/tS4HZqXtaH
In Nimes, police deployed tear gas against protesters after a tense standoff in the downtown.
In Toulouse a barricade in the center of the city was set on fire.
17 people were also arrested during clashes in Bourges in central France, where the local authorities said that 5,000 were rallying.
The French government earlier vowed zero tolerance for violence at the protests, with 80,000 security personnel deployed across France on the weekend.
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.
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