Paris: Police fire tear gas, water cannons on 'yellow vest' protest anniversary

ARCHIVE PHOTO, February 2019 Gilets Jaunes protests in Paris.

In Paris on Saturday, police fired water cannons and tear gas on protesters who gathered to mark one year since the anti-government “yellow vest” demonstrations of 2018.

The gilet jaune protests got their name from the neon yellow high-visibility vests demonstrators wore, and reached a peack around November 2018 over spikes in fuel prices and the cost of living in France under President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reforms.

The protests have lost strength in recent months, going from tens of thousands of participants to just a few thousand, reports Reuters, but today was a mess in Paris, with various tourist sites temporarily closed for safety.

From Reuters:

Demonstrators, many clad in black and hiding their faces, vandalized an HSBC bank branch at the Place d’Italie. They set trash bins on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police while building barricades. Several cars were set ablaze. Police responded with tear gas and a water cannon.

Paris police prefect Didier Lallement canceled permission for a scheduled demonstration in view of the violence. “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,” he told a news conference. “People who came to Place d’Italie to destroy...and were stupid enough to stay, will be called in for questioning,” he added. Some 105 people had been taken in for questioning, he said.

Earlier, clashes broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters were preparing to march across town toward Gare d’Austerlitz.

PHOTO: Thousands of yellow vests (Gilets Jaunes) protesters in Paris calling for lower fuel taxes, reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, a minimum wage increase, and Emmanuel Macron’s resignation as President of France, 09 February 2019. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS. Photographer: Norbu Gyachung. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.