France is set to deploy tens of thousands of police and gendarmes across the country on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, to deal with a fifth weekend of Yellow Vest protests - just days after three people were killed and 13 injured after a mass shooting in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said authorities are on watch for "violent groups" infiltrating the protests, and that riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the presidential palace, reports Reuters.
"We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios," Delpuech told RTL radio, who added that he doesn't expect businesses in the capital to suffer the same level of disruption as they have over the past three weeks, when major stores and hotels suffered a dramatic drop in business as tourists avoided the area.
This weekend's Yellow Vest protests, nicknamed "Acte V" - mark the fifth week of anti-government outrage which began over opposition to an announced fuel-tax designed to pay for climate change policies.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the Yellow Vests to tone down their protests and acknowledge that they had achieved their goals after French President Emmanuel Macron rolled out a series of economic and tax incentives, including a minimum wage hike, no tax on overtime pay, tax-free year-end bonuses, and a six month delay to the fuel tax.
While most French people polled by Odoxa said they found Macron's proposal "satisfactory," 59% of those polled say they were "not convinced" by the measures.
54% of those surveyed said the Yellow Vest protests should continue.
Many of the Yellow Vests have flat-out rejected Macron's proposals, according to European-Views.
He is trying to do a pirouette to land back on his feet but we can see that he isn’t sincere, that it’s all smoke and mirrors,” said Jean-Marc, a car mechanic as a gathering of some 150 Yellow Vests in the southern town of Le Boulou.
“It’s just window dressing, for the media, some trivial measures, it almost seems like a provocation,” said Thierry, 55, a bicycle mechanic.
“All this is cinema, it doesn’t tackle the problems of substance. “We’re really wound up, we’re going back to battle,” he told AFP before taking part in blocking the Boulou turnpike on the French-Spanish border.
“Maybe if Macron had made this speech three weeks ago, it would have calmed the movement, but now it’s too late. For us, this speech is nonsense,” said Gaetan, 34, one of the “Rennes Lapins Jaunes” (Yellow Rabbits of Rennes).
One 35-year-old French official said that Macron "is being held hostage so he drops some crumbs."
Meanwhile, over 700 police officers were redeployed to Strasbourg for a manhunt following Tuesday's mass shooting at a popular Christmas market. The gunman was shot dead in an exchange of gunfire Thursday evening. Castaner said it was time for the yellow vests to give police officers a break.
"I’d rather have the police force doing their real job, chasing criminals and combating the terrorism threat, instead of securing roundabouts where a few thousand people keep a lot of police busy," said the interior minister.
As France still struggles to get a grip on the massive protests that have been raging through the country for weeks, President Emmanuel Macron has admitted that the country is in a state of “economic emergency.”
Paris was in lockdown early on Saturday with thousands of French security forces braced to meet renewed rioting by “yellow vest” protesters in the capital and other cities in a fourth weekend of confrontation over living costs.
French police fired the first batches of tear gas on Saturday as massive crowds of Yellow Vest protesters swarmed into the heart of the capital on the 4th weekend of unrest. Hundreds were detained prior to and at the rally.Police detained at least 700 people across the country, including 575 in Paris, during the rallies, Secretary of State to the Interior Minister Laurent Nunez confirmed, as cited by French media. The official added that a total of 31,000 people have been demonstrating in France.
With his popularity rating at record lows (recent polls put it at around 26%, on par with Hollande), his capital city burning and the populists he defeated during his stunning electoral victory last year making serious electoral inroads, French President Emmanuel Macron finally caved, and on Tuesday ordered a six month suspension of planned 'fuel taxes' which spurred widespread and destructive protests across France over the past three weeks.
French President Emmanuel Macron may institute emergency tax cuts in an attempt to stem violent protests which have gripped France for three weeks, according to Bloomberg.
Rioters ran amok across central Paris on Saturday, torching cars and buildings, looting shops, smashing windows and clashing with police in the worst unrest in more than a decade, posing a dire challenge to Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
French police deployed tear gas after thousands of "yellow vest" activists converged on the the Champs Élysées for a third week of protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his government. Over 122 arrests have been made.
Huge plumes of smoke were seen on one of France’s most iconic streets today, as protesters burned large plywood sheets, chairs and other material in demonstrations against planned fuel hikes.
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