Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Business | By Eloise Houston

Yellow vests' "fourth act" returns violence to Paris streets

Yellow vests'

Protesters in Brussels threw paving stones, road signs, fireworks, flares and other objects at police blocking their entry to an area where Michel's offices, other government buildings and the parliament are located.

Despite the government's climbdown over the fuel tax, the "yellow vests" continue to demand more concessions, including lower taxes, a higher minimum wage, lower energy costs, better retirement benefits and even Macron's resignation.

The "yellow vest" movement has been spurred by anger in small-town and rural France at rising auto fuel taxes which were aimed at helping the country transition to a greener economy, but which protesters say hurts the poor.

Amid skirmishes between the riot police and violent protesters known as "casseurs", or "breakers", which led to more than 700 arrests, there were also calls for non-violence, demands for taxes to be halved and social spending to be doubled, anti-vaccine activists, snatched selfies and eloquently simple slogans scrawled on vests, like one woman who just wrote, "I'm under pressure".

Paris police have fired tear gas on a group of yellow-vested protesters trying to march on the French presidential palace and have pushed them back with shields.

While the number of arrests was higher than last Saturday, the violence and number of injured didn't reach the levels of a week ago when national monuments were trashed and cars burned throughout central Paris.

In eastern Paris, in Republique Square, protests were more quiet with no incident.

Mr Macron's government had warned that the yellow vest protests had created a "monster" and the Paris actions would be hijacked by "radicalised and rebellious" crowds to become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations. A thousand people were detained, and several hundred remain in custody tonight.

Two "Yellow vest" (Gilet Jaune) protesters hug each other during clashes with anti-riot police as part of a demonstration on November 30, 2018, near major European Union buildings in Brussels.

The French retail sector has suffered a loss in revenue of about $1.1 billion since the beginning of the yellow vest protests last month, a spokeswoman for the French retail federation, Sophie Amoros, told CNN.

Philippe on Friday evening met a delegation of self-described "moderate" yellow vests who urged people not to join the protests.

Late Saturday, after announcing that the violence in Paris had been "contained", Castaner, the interior minister, took a victory stroll down the Champs-Elysees.

Philippe said 8,000 police would be mobilised in Paris out of 89,000 nationwide, and that a dozen armoured vehicles would be deployed - a first in the capital.

Shop windows on the othr side of the road are completely shattered.

Much of Paris looked like a ghost town, with museums, department stores closed on what should have been a festive pre-Christmas shopping day.

Foreign governments are watching developments closely in one of the world's most visited cities.

The U.S. Embassy requested that Americans in the French capital "keep a low profile and avoid crowds", the report said.

"Yellow vests, green vests - same anger", they chanted.

The protesters are furious at rising costs of living blamed on high taxes, and accuse Mr Macron, a former investment banker, of favouring the rich with his policies.

But Mr Macron's office has said he will stick to his decision to cut a "fortune tax" on high-earners, abolished past year in a bid to boost investment.

The climbdown on higher fuel taxes - which were meant to help France transition to a greener economy - marked a major departure for the centrist president.

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