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Tear gas in Toulouse as Yellow Vests protests continue for 31st straight weekend

Tear gas in Toulouse as Yellow Vests protests continue for 31st straight weekend
Police in Toulouse, France, deployed tear gas and charged demonstrators, as Yellow Vests protesters took to the streets for the 31st consecutive weekend. It comes as the Elysee Palace pushes for a controversial reform package.

Saturday saw crowds of protesters turn out all over France. The demonstrations in Toulouse were among the largest, with more than 1,000 showing up, and police responded by firing tear gas to disperse the activists. The crack of police weaponry could be heard as the streets filled with the choking gas.

Riot cops moved against the demonstrators in force, plowing through the massed Yellow Vests. Newspaper La Dépêche reported at least 14 arrests in the city.

Similar scenes played out in Paris, with police tear-gassing droves of protesters.

The various turnouts at Saturday’s protests is still unknown, though enthusiasm has been withering in recent weeks. Last weekend’s protests saw just over 10,000 protesters march across France, a slight uptick on the previous weekend, but down from the near 100,000 who marched in January, with all figures coming from the French Interior Ministry. The Yellow Vests themselves often accuse the ministry of downplaying attendance.

Originating as a protest against a planned fuel tax hike last November, the Yellow Vests movement has since evolved into a wider display of anger at the policies of French President Emmanuel Macron. Though Macron promised several rounds of tax cuts and benefit hikes so far this year, the protests continued.

However, with turnout dwindling, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Wednesday that the government would push a controversial reform package. Though the package will cut income tax for middle-class workers, its inclusion of welfare cuts to encourage the jobless to get back to work, as well as incentives for workers to stay on the job past retirement age, may stoke public anger again.

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