Violent Protests Spread from Paris to Belgium and Netherlands

09 December, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • A demonstrator watches a burning car near the Champs Elysees avenue during a demonstration last Saturday in Paris. 

In Paris, protesters were mostly contained to the Champs-Elysees and surrounding avenues, such as avenue Marceau and boulevard de Courcelles, as well as near the Opera district.

Some protesters in Paris on Saturday demanded a French exit from the European Union.

Dozens of people were searched at stations.

People wearing Yellow Vests clash with police forces. Rampaging groups last weekend threw cobblestones through Paris storefronts and looted valuables in some of the city's richest neighborhoods.

Some 31,000 people were demonstrating across France.

Anticipating a repeat of last weekend's violence, monuments including the Eiffel Tower and numerous 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.

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Most of the disturbances have been in Paris, where tear gas and water cannon were unleashed to disperse what French authorities are saying are armed, professional provocateurs, who traveled from across the continent. "I am telling you, things are going to blow up tonight".

Some places also had separate climate change marches taking place.

"We will do all we can so that today can be a day without violence, so that the dialogue that we started this week can continue in the best possible circumstances", he said on French television.

The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow vest protesters were not placated.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Police armoured personnel carriers are parked in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

The demonstrations have been organised across the country via social media, with around 89,000 police deployed throughout France today in an attempt to stem the violence.

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Jan Dijkgraaf, the editor of a Dutch "resistance newspaper" had called for peaceful protests in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

In some cases, yellow vests joined the demonstrations. "Now is the time for discussion". The march came in support of United Nations climate talks taking place in Poland. "We want equality, we want to live, not survive". It had pitted a line of security forces, backed by two armored vehicles, against protesters, some lobbing objects and cherry bombs to taunt police.

Many members of the protest movement are calling for calm, and some struck a conciliatory tone after meeting the prime minister on Friday night in a last-minute bid to cool tempers, but that did not deter many people from trying to march on the presidential palace on Saturday.

A protester waves a French flag during clashes with police at a demonstration by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, December 8, 2018.

Macron himself, the target of much of the protesters' ire, has been largely invisible in recent days, leaving his prime minister and government to try to negotiate with protesters.

The US embassy issued a warning to Americans in Paris to "keep a low profile and avoid crowds", while Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic advised citizens to postpone any planned visits. Dozens of streets were closed to traffic, while the Eiffel Tower and world-famous museums such as the Musee d'Orsay, the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre were shut.

"Tourists are a bit disoriented - no subway, no shopping, no museums. but they seem to take it in their stride", said hotel receptionist Pascal, who declined to give his surname.

The "yellow vest" protests, named after the safety jackets worn by demonstrators, began on 17 November in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but have since grown into a wider movement against Emmanuel Macron in the biggest challenge of his presidency so far.

Demonstrations have since swelled into a broad, sometimes-violent rebellion against Mr Macron - a challenge made more hard to handle since the movement has no formal leader.

Authorities say the protests have been hijacked by far-right and anarchist elements bent on violence and stirring up social unrest.

"[This is] a president who believes in the European project, who has grandiose ideas about the world, who cuts taxes for the rich and the puts up the cost of filling up your vehicle or van for those on lower incomes", Farage said.

Four people have been killed in accidents since the unrest began.


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