Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

French yellow vests clash with police in Paris

Paris Luxury Stores Looted Burned In'Yellow Vest Riots 'Yellow Vest' protesters loot Paris stores
Steven Clarke | 17 March, 2019, 07:29

"Le Fouquet's" brasseries- frequented by politiicans and film stars - was targetted.

A restaurant on fire during clashes between riot police and "gilets jaunes" on the Champs-Elysees, Paris on 16 March.

Cobblestones flew in the air and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is vowing to "severely punish" the radicals responsible for rioting and setting fires around one of France's richest neighborhoods. "No cause justifies this violence", he added.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, a crony of President Macron with no obvious qualifications for Frence's "top cop" job, estimated that casseurs (or "breakers") made up 15-20 percent of the protesters.

Luxury handbag store Longchamp was among the shops targeted by the rioters on the Champs-Elysees.

The yellow vest movement has faced accusations of anti-Semitism in recent weeks after a prominent Jewish philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, was targeted by insults and taunts in Paris.

The interior ministry estimated 10,000 people had participated in the protest in Paris, compared with 2,800 the previous Saturday.

Around half a million people turned out at townhall-style meetings held around the country, but many "yellow-vest" protesters dismissed the consultation as a smokescreen.

Thirty-one people had been arrested by mid-morning, the police said.

The bank is located on the ground floor of an apartment building, which which was engulfed by flames. Eleven people, including two fire fighters, suffered minor injuries, a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

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"It's unfortunate but this is the only way we can make ourselves heard", a "yellow vest" who traveled from the southeastern Bourgogne region for a protest billed as an "ultimatum" to Macron, said as he looked on.

"End of the debate, start of the big clearout", it read. All were attempting to march on the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron's official home, but were held back by barriers and rows of police.The Vests have been protesting since November 17 a year ago and, despite a range of concessions by President Macron including scrapping green taxes of diesel and petrol, continue to call for him to step down.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon as the protests turned violent after weeks of relative calm, during which marches had attracted declining numbers of participants.

Black-clad demonstrators encircled the square surrounding the arch, pelting the police with stones.

"We have been too nice, that's why it's violent today".

The protests came a day after President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the southwestern Pyrenees mountains with his wife Brigitte for a short ski break, an AFP photographer reported.

From early morning protesters began pouring into the capital by train and auto from around the country for what they called an "ultimatum" to Macron. Police closed down several streets and fanned out around the Right Bank.

Vehicles on the Champs-Elysees were also targetted. They are angry over high taxes and Macron policies seen as coddling the business world. He has loosened the state's purse strings to the tune of 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion) to try defuse the protests.

But the measures failed to quell the anger of the demonstrators, who accuse Macron, a centrist former investment banker, of being beholden to high finance.

French yellow vest protesters are rioting in a 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

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