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France avoids follow-up 'yellow vest' violence

March 23, 2019

'Yellow vest' protesters have again marched through Paris and other French cities to voice their anger at President Emmanuel Macron. Although noticeably calmer than previous weeks, police deployed tear gas at one point.

Yellow vest protesters in Paris
Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Guillot

Isolated clashes broke out between yellow vest protesters and police in Paris on Saturday, but increased security measures prevented the kind of rioting that devastated the city a week ago.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the city carrying banners calling for President Emmanuel Macron to "Get Lost!" Others gathered near the Eiffel Tower.

In the late afternoon, police fired tear gas on protesters near Boulevard de Strasbourg, close to the capital's Gare du Nord and Gare de L'Est railway stations.

But Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the protests had largely been peaceful due to the beefed up security presence in the city.

"The correct methods have been applied, and the results are there to be seen," he said.

Castaner said there were 5,000 demonstrators in Paris, down from 10,000 last week, and 35,500 elsewhere in France, up from 32,300 last week. Police arrested some 233 protesters across the country, he added.

Last weekend, protests turned violent on the capital's most famous street as police refrained from openly challenging protesters.

The city's police chief resigned and his replacement, Didier Lallement, announced a ban on demonstrations on the Champs Elysees, around the presidential palace, and near parliament buildings. He said specific police units had been created to react faster to any violence.

Yellow vest protesters gather on Denfert Rochereau
Yellow vest protesters gather on Denfert RochereauImage: Getty Images/AFP/F. Guillot

Restrictions elsewhere

Similar restrictions were also introduced in other French cities where protests turned violent in previous weeks. They include the centers of Toulouse, Bordeaux, Dijon, Rennes and the southern city of Nice, where President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this weekend.

Six people were arrested in Nice on Saturday and others removed from the Place Garibaldi, which had been closed to demonstrators.

Soldiers involved in the "Sentinelle" anti-terror operation were redeployed to guard public buildings on Saturday. This freed up police to take part in public order operations during the yellow vest demonstrations.

jm/amp (AFP, AP)

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