Over 700 arrested in Paris amid violent fuel protests

Over 700 arrested in Paris amid violent fuel protests

Over 700 arrested in Paris amid violent fuel protests

Exceptional police deployment failed to deter determined protesters, and some 125,000 took to the streets Saturday around France with a bevy of ever-expanding demands related to the country's high living costs.

Across the country, the strength of the police has been increased to 89,000 from 65,000 deployed last weekend when over 130 people were injured and more than 400 were detained in the worst violent protests in decades.

The French government reportedly dispatched more than 90,000 law enforcement officers nationwide, with 8,000 dispatched in Paris alone.

According to the country's deputy Interior Minister, police frisked people or searched bags throughout central Paris, and confiscated gas masks and protective goggles from Associated Press journalists.

Thierry Paul Valette, who helps coordinate yellow vest protesters who come to Paris, said the president must announce concrete measures to quell the fury. Much of Paris was locked down in advance, in anticipation of more violence.

The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from protest riots a week ago, and most of the capital remained untouched, but the violence in neighborhoods popular with tourists is tarnishing the country's image.

PHOTO: France's President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a meeting with French mayors at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Nov. 21, 2018.

Adding a unsafe and violent punch to the protests are militant left-wing and right-wing activists, including youth from the tough suburbs of Paris and other big cities. On boulevard Poissonniere and boulevard Haussmann, some tried to erect barricades, using urban furniture and stones from the pavement, and defying police forces.

More than 500 people were still in custody in Paris by Sunday morning, officials said. A few clashes continued around Place de la Republique, which was largely calm earlier in the day.

Over 700 arrested in Paris amid violent fuel protests

Tear gas was hurled as protesters, known as yellow vests, took part in a fourth demonstration in Paris on Saturday. On the Champs-Elysees, numerous more peaceful Yellow Vests chanted for Macron to resign, while the more violent ones saved their vitriol for the police.

Seventeen of the injured were police officers. Police found hammers, gas masks and petanque balls during early searches, Johanna Primevert, a spokeswoman for the police prefecture, said in an interview with BFM TV.

The question is will he give the protesters what they want, which is something very simple: more money in their pockets. "He's done more in 18 months than the others in 30 years".

Demonstrators stand near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Paris.

With nearly 40 Paris metro stations closed near national monuments and the posh shopping districts targeted by previous demonstrations, groups of protesters looking to get to the center of Paris began to pop up in neighborhoods. It's organised through social media and has no leadership, but has the support of three-quarters of the French public, polls show.

"You can understand the yellow vests movement".

A huge clean-up operation was under way in Paris on Sunday after French "yellow vest" demonstrators clashed with riot police in the latest round of protests against President Emmanuel Macron, but a heavy security deployment averted a repeat of last week's destruction.

At first the government dismissed the movement, saying the higher gasoline taxes had been compensated by cuts in payroll taxes.

Macron has already offered protesters a string of concessions, including scrapping further rises in fuel taxes - a major climbdown for a president who had vowed not to be swayed, like his predecessors, by mass protests.

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