French police fire tear gas, arrest hundreds at Paris protests


French police fired tear gas and arrested hundreds on Saturday as protests in Paris broke out on the Champs-Élysées, according to multiple reports.

Authorities said 211 people were arrested in the demonstrations Saturday, according to Al Jazeera, after police found hammers, baseball bats and metal balls on them. A police spokesperson told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs-Élysées.

The police prefecture of Paris said more than 300 people were arrested by 9 a.m., The New York Times reported. Protesters chanted for French President Emmanuel Macron to resign, according to the outlet, while social media posts showed police releasing tear gas into the crowd.

{mosads}Tens of thousands of police officers were deployed across the country, including several thousand in Paris, the Times reported. Saturday’s protests mark the fourth weekend of protests.

The protests follow a proposed tax hike that was originally slated to begin in January. French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced Tuesday that the government would not implement a tax hike on fuel, stating, “No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger.”

The original demonstrations by the “yellow vest” group began to protest the fuel tax and call for a higher minimum wage, among other demands. The protests, Al Jazeera notes, have grown into a demonstration against wider economic dissatisfaction.

“There is a rising of the people’s rage and it’s caused by a single reason – the government’s policies that only look to take from the poor to keep for the rich,” Taha Bouhafs, an activist in Paris, told the outlet. 

The Eiffel Tower and other cultural hallmarks were shuttered Saturday in anticipation of the protests.

Macron’s office announced that he will address the nation early next week to address the protests.

The French government has cautioned that the protests will be hijacked by “radicalized and rebellious” crowds, after three weeks of demonstrations.


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