France's 'Yellow Vest' Protests Continue
France’s “yellow vest” demonstrators kept numerous roads across the country blocked on Saturday as groups of protesters marched in city centers, but the anti-government backlash was more dispersed and muted than in previous weeks.
Driven by anger over a perceived squeeze on household income, the movement has shaken Emmanuel Macron’s presidency and hurt retailers and other businesses after the spontaneous protest against fuel taxes gave way to riots in early December.
Sporadic clashes with police broke out as protesters in several cities including Bordeaux and Nantes were pushed back by teargas and stun grenades, though the turnout across France dwindled on the seventh Saturday of demonstrations.
Official estimates were not yet available, though French TV channel LCI, citing unnamed sources, put the turnout at 12,000, well below the nearly 40,000 last week.
In Paris, where protests turned violent in early December, police said by early evening that they had detained some 57 people after 800 demonstrators took to the streets, down from at least 109 arrests last week with a similar number of protesters.
People wearing high-visibility vests mingled among shoppers and tourists and chanted “Macron, resign!” on the Champs Elysees avenue, home to boutiques that were smashed and bore the brunt of lootings at the height of the violence.