PARIS — French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris on Saturday as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to ventand Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
Thousands of police were deployed nationwide to contain the deadly demonstrations that started as protests against tax but morphed into a rebuke of Macron and the perceived elitism of France’s ruling class. Two people have been killed since November 17 in protest-related tragedies.
Tense clashes on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday saw police face off with demonstrators who burned plywood, wielded placards reading “Death to Taxes” and upturned a large vehicle. Authorities said that 5,000 protesters flooded the Champs-Elysees at the demonstration’s peak. There were nearly 81,000 protesters in total nationwide.
The famed avenue was speckled from the early morning in neon, owing to the color of the vests the myriad self-styled “yellow jacket” protesters don. French drivers are required to keep neon security vests in their vehicles, and now, the vests have become a sort of uniform for the movement against higher fuel costs, BBC News reported.