Yellow Vest protesters, many of whom were dressed all in black and covering their faces, set rubbish bins on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police as they built barricades. Several cars were also set alight, forcing police to fire tear gas and a water cannon as the violent clashes again threatened to spiral out of control. Demonstrators also vandalised an HSBC bank branch at the Place d’Italie, smashing windows of the British bank, breaking open doors and lighting fires while preventing emergency services from getting to them.
Our response will be very firm. All those who are hiding their face, all those who are throwing stones are going to be called in for questioning
Clashes had also broken out between protesters and police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters were preparing to march across town towards Gare d’Austerlitz.
A few hundred demonstrators had also threatened to occupy the Paris ring road, with police desperately attempting to thwart their attempts.
Paris police prefect Didier Lallement told a news conference this afternoon 105 people had been arrested, with the latest outbreak of violence forcing him to cancel permission for a scheduled demonstration.
He said: “Our response will be very firm. All those who are hiding their face, all those who are throwing stones are going to be called in for questioning.
Paris riots have erupted during anniversary Yellow Vest protests
Cars and rubbish was set alight in another day of violence on the streets of the French capital
“People who came to Place d’Italie to destroy, and were stupid enough to stay, will be called in for questioning.”
An officer at the scene, who confirmed they were responding to the violent clashes by firing tear gas, said: “Barricades have been set on fire and we have come under attack. The situation is extremely tense.”
The officer also added controversial flash ball guns – used mainly by police in riot situations as an alternative to lethal firearms, baton rounds and plastic bullets – had also been deployed.
Eleanor Bisset, a 19-year-old student who was marching today, said: “We want Macron out, and a change in the system of Government.
Paris riots: Emmanuel Macron is under increased pressure following more violent Yellow Vest protests
Paris riots: Riot police pass a burning car
Paris riots: Protesters threw missiles at riot police
“Direct democracy is our main aim – we want everybody to have a say in the decisions that our made on our behalf.”
The yellow vest protests, named after the high-visibility jackets worn by the demonstrators, erupted in November 2018 from a furious reaction to hikes in fuel prices and the high cost of living, which they have blamed on Emmanuel Macron.
The demonstrations, a weekly occurrence on a Saturday over the past 12 months, have spiralled into a broader movement against the French President and his controversial economic reforms.
Today’s protests are the most violent in recent months having gone from tens of thousands of participants to just a few thousand – at its peak in late 2018, the movement had grown to up to 300,000 people.
Paris riots: Tear gas was fired in an attempt to drive back the protesters
Paris riots: Protesters smashed the front of a HSBC branch
But those leading the movement had called for people to come out on force today to mark the first anniversary.
Official figures show more than 2,500 protesters have been wounded during the protests over the past year, including 24 demonstrators who have lost an eye, and five who have lost a hand because of police weapons.
Two police officers are set to stand trial over alleged violence against protesters, while up to 1800 police officers have suffered serious injuries.
When Mr Macron came to power in 2017, he pledged to make France a fairer and more equal country, but the leader is now often referred to as the “President of the Rich”.
He has desperately tried to get the protests under control, which has been one of the toughest challenges of his presidency before they started to dwindle in the summer.
They quickly grew from nationwide road blockades into a series of often-violent demonstrations that saw protesters clash with police in Paris, that left large parts of Paris and major French cities ravaged.
Mr Macron was quickly forced to make concessions on his policies and delay the next big wave of reforms including overhauling the pension and unemployment systems.
Published at Sat, 16 Nov 2019 18:48:00 +0000