More than a quarter million people gathered on Saturday at 2,000 locations, blocking roads as part of what has been called the “Gilets Jaunes” or “yellow vests” protest, named for the reflective vests worn by protesters.
The movement calling for mass blockades of roads and highways started last month on social media. Protesters were demanding that big businesses and industries should be the ones to bear the burden of the green taxes imposed by the government and not ordinary people.
Police forces fired tear gas on protesters. More than 250 people were injured, seven seriously and 117 detained, with 73 then taken into police custody. One person died when a driver panicked and ran over a protester.
High fuel prices have resulted in President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity dropping in recent months from 39% in July to 21% in October. An opinion poll last week put support for the “yellow vests” movement at 73 percent, a much higher figure than in other protests since Macron was elected.
Protesters say he is neglecting the lower and middle classes, pointing to tax cuts he has pushed through for high earners and companies. There are plans to block roads to Charles de Gaulle airport and shut down the main highways of the capital.
For the year in France, the price of petrol has increased by 10-15% and the price of the most popular diesel fuel in the country rose 24%.
Photo: “Mouvement des gilets jaunes, Andelnans, 17 Nov 2018” by Thomas Bresson is licensed under CC BY 2.0