Thousands Protest in Paris, Police Fire Tear Gas and Water Cannons

Thousands of protesters gathered in the capital to protest rising fuel prices and nearly 100,000 protested throughout France. Clashes broke out on the Champs-Elysées in Paris as protesters came up against metal barriers and riot police holding a perimeter around key buildings including the prime minister’s official residence.

After the initial clashes, water cannons and volleys of tear gas were used in an effort to disperse the demonstrators. Video posted online showed a truck burning, with protesters and riot police squared off on either side as the vehicle exploded. Demonstrators constructed impromptu barricades. As the sun set and the demonstrations continued, fires burned in the streets and the Arc de Triomphe was shrouded in smoke and tear gas.

Some of the events organizers have billed the second round of protests as “act two.” The grassroots movement is known as “yellow jackets,” named after their high-visibility vests. The protesters oppose an unfair tax increase on fuel that burdens poorer french people. The movement argues corporations and the wealthy should bare the brunt of “green taxes.” The people profiting from environmental destruction should be held responsible, not the poor people that are struggling to survive.

Away from the capital, demonstrators have set up roadblocks outside of oil refineries in the south of France. A strike movement has struck six out of seven refineries in the country. Highways have been blocked with makeshift barricades and convoys of slow-moving trucks prevent access to fuel depots and factories. Last weekend some 300,000 people took part in protests at more than 2,000 locations across France.

A poll this week indicated 73% of people in France support the protests. The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in France, has risen by around 23% this year, its highest price since the early 2000s.

 

 

Photo: “Mouvement des gilets jaunes” by Thomas Bresson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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