Cannon on anniversary of Yellow Vest stir
French police fired water cannon and tear gas in Paris on Saturday to drive back protesters marking the first anniversary of anti-government “Yellow Vest” demonstrations.
Demonstrators, many clad in black and hiding their faces, vandalised an HSBC bank branch at the Place d’Italie. They set trash bins on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police while building barricades.
Several cars were set ablaze. The police responded with tear gas and a water cannon.
Paris police prefect Didier Lallement cancelled permission for a scheduled demonstration in view of the violence. “Our response will be very firm. All those who are hiding their face, all those who are throwing stones are going to be called in for questioning,” he told a news conference.
“People who came to Place d’Italie to destroy... and were stupid enough to stay, will be called in for questioning,” he added. Some 105 people had been taken in for questioning, he said.
Earlier, clashes broke out between demonstrators and the police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters were preparing to march across town towards Gare d’Austerlitz.
The police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road.
The Yellow Vest protests, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by demonstrators, erupted in November 2018 over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living. The demonstrations spiralled into a broader movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reforms.
The protests have lost strength in recent months, going from tens of thousands of participants to just a few thousand, but the movement’s leaders called for people to turn out on Saturday to mark the first anniversary.