French police detained more than 200 people in Paris on Saturday and fired hundreds of canisters of tear gas on protesters staging a fourth weekend of demonstrations against the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
CNN reporters on the ground also saw police fire rubber bullets, and found some in the Avenue de Friedland, one of the avenues that runs off the Arc de Triomphe. Rubber bullets found on Avenue de Friedland, leading toward the Arc de Triomphe, during protests in Paris, France on Saturday 8 December 2018.Several thousand protesters, most of them male and dressed in “gilets jaunes,” the yellow high-visibility jackets that have become the symbol of the movement, converged on the Champs-Elysees at about 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET).
- Police then used water cannons in a bid to disperse the crowd. Protesters clash with riot police amid tear gas on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on December 8.Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump claimed the “gilets jaunes” protests, which started in protest against an eco-tax on gas, underscored his decision not to sign the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Read More”The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris,” he tweeted. “Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting ‘We Want Trump!’ Love France.”CNN reporters on the ground say the only time they heard Trump mentioned was as a joke when they were recording.
The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2018
Earlier, TV images showed French protesters parading past the flagship stores of some of Paris’s best-known luxury brands such as Mont Blanc and Cartier, all with their shutters tightly fastened on what would normally be a busy shopping day before Christmas.Anticipating a repeat of last weekend’s violence, monuments including the Eiffel Tower and many of the French capital’s metro stations remained closed with about 8,000 police on the streets of Paris with tens of thousands more deployed across the country. A spokesman for the French Interior Ministry said there were about 31,000 protesters on the streets across France, compared to 36,000 this time last week. A smaller “yellow vest” demonstration of around 500 people also took place in the Belgian capital Brussels near the European Parliament, according to the newspaper Le Soir. Scuffles broke out between police and protesters and 70 people were arrested.Riot police forces spray tear gas at a woman during copycat demonstrations in Brussels.In Paris, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told CNN affiliate BMTV that officers had detained for questioning 575 people as of 12.45 p.m. local time (7.45 a.m. ET) and made 211 arrests. “We have to change the Republic,” Ilda, a yellow jacket protester from the south of France near Toulouse, told CNN. “People here are starving. Some people earn just 500 euros a month you can’t afford to live. People don’t want to stop because we want the President to go.”Patrice, a pensioner from Paris, said he was protesting because of “the government and the taxes and all these problems. We have to survive.”Who are the 'yellow vest' protesters causing chaos in France?Saturday’s demonstration is the fourth in a series of protests that last weekend erupted into the worst riots France had witnessed for decades, with anger largely focused on the performance of French President Emmanuel Macron. With more riots expected in other parts of the country, Philippe said the government was deploying 89,000 security force members across France.Interior Minister Christophe Castaner vowed Friday to deploy all the means available to ensure the latest protests are not hijacked by what he called “a small minority” who have been “radicalized and fallen into violence and hate.”A yellow vest protester kneels in front of police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday.”We have to guarantee the safety of protesters and the right of citizens to move around freely,” he told reporters.The French retail sector has suffered a loss in revenue of about $1.1 billion since the beginning of the yellow vest protests last month, a spokeswoman for the French retail federation, Sophie Amoros, told CNN. Amid heightened tensions, police seized 28 petrol bombs and three homemade explosive devices Friday at an area blockaded by protesters in Montauban in southern France, a spokesman for the Tarn-et-Garonne prefecture told CNN.Yellow vest protesters gather near the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris on Saturday.Dominique Moisi, a foreign policy expert at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne and a former Macron campaign adviser, told CNN the French presidency was not only in crisis but that Europe’s future also hung in the balance.”In a few months from now, there will be European elections, and France was supposed to be the carrier of hope and European progress. What happens if it’s no longer? If the President is incapacitated to carry that message?” Moisi asked.
Current scene on the champs #giletsjaunes pic.twitter.com/JVrFEEwol5
— Saskya Vandoorne (@SaskyaCNN) December 8, 2018
“It’s about the future of democracy, as well; illiberal democracies are rising all over the world. And if Macron fails, the future of France risks looking like the presidency of Italy today. And it’s much more serious because we have a centralized state, which plays a major role in the balance of power within Europe.
- “But make no mistake, it is a French version of a much more global phenomenon.”France’s far left CGT movement has pledged support for the movement, which is also supported by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.