The French ‘yellow vest’ movement continued on Saturday, with 50,000 protesters marching through Paris and across France. As violent clashes erupted at the march at the French capital, Paris.
‘Yellow vest’ protesters gathered in Paris on Saturday afternoon, chanting the French national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’ and waving anti-Macron banners. They peacefully marched from the Champs-Elysees boulevard through central Paris, gathering at the stock exchange to call for Emmanuel Macron’s resignation.
The protests turned violent as the march entered the city centre. Protesters threw bottles and rocks at the police, who responded with tear gas. Police officers were beaten up during clashes on the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor bridge near the National Assembly.
For the past two months, the ‘yellow vests’ or ‘gilets jaunes’ have been blocking roads, occupying highway toll-booths and organising weekly.
The movement is driven by the French workers and lower-middle class that they cannot make ends meet, and anger at Macron’s reforms which are seen as favouring the rich.
“We will be protesting here every Saturday, it will go on for all of 2019 …. we will make sure that citizens take back power.” a protester declared using a megaphone on the Champs-Elysees.
Thousands more gathered in other French cities. In Bordeaux in the southwest, they were 4,600 according to local authorities. They were 2,000 in Rouen and more than 1,000 in Lille, in the north, and 2,000 in Nantes, in the west.
Macron’s government has started 2019 on the offensive, calling the remaining protesters “agitators” seeking to overthrow the government. Announcing that it would harden its stance against the ‘yellow vests’.
The police have started arresting the protestors including one of the prominent figures of the ‘yellow vests’ movement who was arrested by the police before the weekend.
These protests have a similar verve to the Arab uprising and Imran Khan’s PTI movement in Pakistan. protesting against the elite to seek fairer terms for the ‘average joe’.
As the French government becomes more wary of the uprising, on Friday, the government promised it would “go on with the changes” it is introducing in France and would be “more radical” in doing so.
The French Government deployed 150,000 police officers across France over the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Since the onset of the movement, ten people have been killed and more than 1,500 have been injured. Fifty of the injury cases were serious. Thousands more have been arrested by security forces.