Massive police presence at “yellow vests” protest

Massive police presence at 'yellow vests' protest

According to official figures, 66,000 people took part in the "yellow vest" protests in france on saturday – significantly fewer than a week ago. In paris, the rallies took place in different locations.

Tensions between security forces and demonstrators again erupted, especially on the boulevard champs-elysees, where trangas and water cannons were also used. In paris, according to the police prefecture, more than 150 people were arrested, of which more than 110 were taken into police custody.

According to the interior ministry, 2200 people took part in the protests in the capital by the afternoon, demanding among other things the resignation of president emmanuel macron. The demonstrations were accompanied by massive security measures. 8000 police officers were deployed in paris alone. Nationwide, 69,000 security forces were on duty. There were also tensions in bordeaux and toulouse.

It is the fifth weekend in a row that the "yellow vests" protest. After the terrorist attack in strasbourg on tuesday, the french government appealed to the "yellow vests" not to demonstrate this weekend.

On saturday a week ago, the number of demonstrators in paris had reached about 10,000 by the afternoon, and 126,000 in the country as a whole by the evening. At that time about 2000 people had been arrested.

In front of the oper garnier, "yellow vests" organized a sit-in. They knelt on the ground with their hands behind their heads – an allusion to a mass arrest of schoolchildren several days ago. On the champs-elysees, several women demonstrated half naked dressed as marianne and stood silently for minutes in the face of security forces. Marianne is the national figure of the french republic. In pictures she is usually shown covered with a phrygian mug and with uncovered breasts.

While a week ago shops and many sights and museums were closed, this time the world-famous louvre and the eiffel tower remained open. Paris should not give the impression of a "dead" city, police chief michel delpuech said.

According to the french government, the ongoing roadblocks and protests are having a noticeable impact on the country’s economic growth. The french national bank has halved growth expectations for the current quarter from 0.4 to 0.2 percent.

Since the start of their protest movement in mid-november, several people have died as a result of accidents at "yellow vest" roadblocks. On friday, a motorist in the erquelinnes region of belgium drove into a truck that was blocked due to a roadblock on the french side. One day earlier, a 23-year-old "yellow vest" demonstrator was hit and killed by a truck in avignon, southern france.

Originally, the anger of the "yellow vests" was directed against planned tax increases on gasoline and diesel, high cost of living and the reform policies of the center government of president emmanuel macron. To defuse the conflict with the "yellow vests," macron promised at the beginning of the week a package of immediate measures in the social sector, including an increase in the minimum wage by 100 euros a month. The measures are expected to cost up to ten billion euros.

In the meantime, some of the demands have changed. Many of the demonstrators were protesting in paris for more direct democracy. Calls for a citizens’ referendum were voiced – and for macron to resign.