Paris: At least 1,385 protesters were arrested across France during the fourth weekend of “gilets jaunes” or the “yellow vest” demonstrations against the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that as of Saturday evening, 1,385 people, with 920 alone in Paris, were arrested in connection to the demonstrations that attracted 125,000 people around the country and 10,000 in the capital, reports Efe news.
Castaner, who warned that the number of arrests will increase since the violence in Paris and some other cities will continue, said that 118 demonstrators were known to have been injured along with 17 police officials.
During protests on December 1, 201 civilians and 284 police personnel were injured amid scenes of urban guerrilla tactics.
French authorities deployed 89,000 police and gendarmes (65,000 the week before), with 8,000 of them in the capital and this time with orders to act quickly against any fighting in order to prevent destruction, and also to raise barricades.
To that end, they used water cannons, tear gas and, for the first time in 40 years, a dozen armoured cars. The first clashes between police and protesters occurred on Saturday morning in the Champs Elysees, the Yellow Vests’ main meeting point.
With a view to prevention, and following the December 1 vandalism, most businesses in the threatened areas remained closed, starting with the big department stores.
Also shut were the monuments and museums of Paris like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. In addition, from the early hours, 36 subway stations remained closed. Other disturbances took place around the country, including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseilles, Lyon and Nantes, where some 2,000 people marched to the Prefecture (government office) before they would have to face police using tear gas against them.
Demonstrations by the Yellow Vests movement began as a protest against increased taxes on fuel planned for 2019, a ruling that was annulled this week by the government. Many still demand the resignation of President Macron as they continue to demand an increase in social spending on pensions and education, slashing taxes, improving infrastructure, curtailing immigration and ending the privatisation of public services, among many other issues.