Thousands of protesters and thousands of police face off for what protesters have dubbed Act 4 of the Yellow Vest movements protests, the fourth consecutive weekend of demonstrations taking over central Paris.
The French government has deployed nearly 90,000 police across the country and armored vehicles into Paris to maintain control in preparation for the protests. Thousands of demonstrators have been injured and arrested by police.
Police fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, high powered hoses and pepper spray at Yellow Vest protesters in central Paris during the demonstration against the high cost of living. Protesters erected impromptu barricades and held up makeshift shields to protect themselves as clashes with police intensified. Barrages of tear gas fell, demonstrators responded with rocks and bottles. In an effort to slow the police, barricades were lit on fire. Amidst the clouds of tear gas the protesters can be heard cheering, interspersed with stun grenades exploding. As night fell, dozens of police vehicles surrounded the Arc de Triomphe, protests thinned and red Christmas lights lit the roads.
Protesters have a broad set of economic demands: including lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper energy costs, better retirement provisions and even Macron’s resignation.
The standard of living for the average French family has not improved for a decade since the global economic collapse in 2008. Macron’s administration has reduced taxes on the rich to the tune of billions of dollars per year.
Earlier in the week, students at hundreds of French high schools were blocked or disrupted by students protesting education overhauls.
The main farmers’ union said its members would hold demonstrations every day next week. Two truck driver unions have called an indefinite sympathy strike from Sunday night.
The government has made concessions to avoid more protests after the U-turn on fuel tax increases. Macron’s office says he will stick to his decision to cut a “fortune tax” on high-earners. Macron’s approval ratings is down to just 23 percent in some polls.