French protests take place for fourth week in row

Massive deployment of security as 136,000 engage in acts of violence and destruction

Smashed windows of  a Starbucks after yellow vest clashes with French police in Paris on December 8th, 2018. Photograph: Ian Langsdon

Smashed windows of a Starbucks after yellow vest clashes with French police in Paris on December 8th, 2018. Photograph: Ian Langsdon

 

Protest riots on the fourth consecutive Saturday in France were more scattered and possibly less violent, but turnout and destruction were nonetheless significant, despite the doubling of security forces.

Eight-nine thousand police and gendarmes were deployed, including 8,000 in Paris, where the para-military gendarmerie used armoured vehicles to protect the Arc de Triomphe and dismantle barricades erected by protesters.

An estimated 136,000 gilets jaunes or “yellow vests” demonstrated across the country on December 8th, the same number as the previous Saturday. The interior ministry said 1,723 people were arrested, of whom 1,220 were charged, mostly with preparing violent acts against persons or property. Two-hundred and sixty-four people were injured.

Hammers and knives

In Paris, security forces matched protesters nearly one to one. Protesters arriving in the capital were searched. Protective goggles and gas masks were confiscated. Police seized hammers, baseball bats, bowling balls and knives.

Protesters and anarchist vandals constituted small, mobile groups which dispersed when attacked with tear gas and moved around the capital despite the public transport shutdown. They smashed windows, burned cars and looted.

The yellow vests have begun planning “Act V” of their protests for next Saturday.

President Emmanuel Macron will discuss measures of appeasement with social partners on Monday morning and make a televised address on Monday evening.