France protests: 133 people injured and over 400 arrested as protesters angry at rising cost of living clash with police

A state of emergency could be declared following violent protests in Paris which saw 133 people injured last night.

French President Emmanuel Macron was chairing an urgent security meeting today following the violence by anti-government protesters in the streets of the French capital.

Protests grew by so-called “yellow jacket” activists. The protest started over a rise in fuel tax but descended into violence sparked by general anger at rises in the cost of living in France.

More than 100 people were injured and 412 were arrested during France’s worst urban riot in years.

The 133 people injured during Saturday’s protest included 23 police officers, police said.

Some 378 of the arrested have been put in police custody after the violence that tore apart parts of central Paris.

A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists wearing yellow jackets torched cars, smashed windows, looted shops and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-coloured graffiti.

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold an emergency meeting on security with the prime minister and the interior minister.

He has vowed that those responsible for the violence will pay for their actions.

By Sunday morning, Paris city employees were cleaning up the graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe.

One read “yellow jackets will triumph”, a reference to the fluorescent yellow vests that protesters are wearing to demand relief for France’s beleaguered workers.

Some of Paris’s major avenues near the Arc de Triomphe and streets around the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue and the Tuileries garden were littered with piles of debris and burned cars.

Graffiti was also sprayed on many shopfronts and buildings.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Saturday’s violence was due to those who hijacked the protest, people who came “to loot, break and hit police forces”.

He was asked why thousands of French police could not prevent the damage, especially to the nation’s Arc de Triomphe monument.

“Yesterday we made a choice … to protect people before material goods,” Mr Griveaux told French broadcaster BFM TV.

It was the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris involving activists dressed in the yellow vests of a new protest movement and the worst urban violence since at least 2005.

The scene in Paris contrasted sharply with protests elsewhere in France on Saturday that were mostly peaceful.

“It’s difficult to reach the end of the month. People work and pay a lot of taxes and we are fed up,” said Rabah Mendez, a protester who came to march peacefully in Paris.

The demonstrators say Mr Macron’s government does not care about the problems of ordinary people.

The grassroots protests began on November 17 with motorists upset over a fuel tax hike, but now involve a broad range of demands related to France’s high cost of living.

“(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger” and “no cause justifies” attacks on police or pillaging shops and burning buildings, Mr Macron said in Buenos Aires.
https://www.standard.co.uk

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