France will consider imposing a state of emergency to ensure incidents of rioting do not repeat, government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux said on Sunday, a day after Paris witnessed the country’s most violent riots in more than a decade, Reuters reported.
Several people in fluorescent yellow jackets and masked faces rioted on the streets of Paris on Saturday, setting dozens of vehicles and buildings on fire. They also tagged the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous monuments in Paris, with graffiti and looted several stores, according to AP. At least 110 people, including about 20 police personnel, were injured. Hundreds of protestors were arrested.
The “gilet jaunes” or “yellow vest” protests, named after the fluorescent jackets stored in all vehicles in France, began on November 17 against rising fuel taxes and high cost of living, and escalated this weekend. So far, the protests were peaceful. On Saturday, demonstrations and road blockades in other parts of France were largely peaceful.
“We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don’t happen again,” Griveaux said on Sunday. “It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence.”
President Emmanuel Macron denounced the violence from Argentina, where he was attending the G20 summit. “[Violence] has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger,” he said, adding that “no cause justifies” the attacks.
Macron is expected to hold an emergency meeting with the prime minister and interior minister later on Sunday. Griveaux said imposing a state of emergency will be among the options considered at this meeting.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Griveaux urged the protestors to organise themselves and come to the negotiating table. The “yellow vest” movement, which largely grew thanks to social media, has no leadership. “We are ready to talk to them everywhere and the door is open to them,” Griveaux said.