The police arrested over 500 persons in Paris, the capital of France on Saturday as they confronted “yellow vest” protestors for the third straight weekend, Reuters reported. As many as 31,000 people have been protesting in France on Saturday.
Those who were arrested had been found to have weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal balls used to play petanque with them. Around 600 persons were detained in total. This comes a week after Paris saw the most violent riots in France in more than a decade on December 2, which led the government to contemplate imposing a state of emergency.
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. The protests escalated last weekend, when several people in fluorescent yellow jackets and masked faces rioted on the streets of Paris, setting dozens of vehicles and buildings on fire. They had also tagged the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous monuments in Paris, with graffiti and looted several stores. More than 30 people were injured on Saturday. Three people have died since the protests began in November, BBC reported.
On Saturday, around 89,000 police personnel were deployed across the country to prevent a repeat – 8,000 of them in Paris. The central part of the city was under a virtual lockdown, with shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and metro stations remaining closed. Football matches and concerts were cancelled. Several streets were closed for traffic.
Police carried out checks on people arriving at railway stations and protest sites such as the Champs Elysees and the Bastille. Some persons were arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that they could use to attack police, an unidentified official told AFP.
On Friday, Benoit Potterie, an MP from the party of President Emmanuel Macron, received a bullet in the post with the words: “Next time it will be between your eyes.”
The protests continued despite the government’s announcement on Tuesday, suspending a planned fuel price hike in the country for six months. The protestors demanded more concessions and have called for Macron’s resignation. They have called him a “president of the rich”.