PARIS: Clashes between protesters and police broke out as the Yellow Vest rallies entered their 18th consecutive week, causing more headaches for President Macron, whose “great debate” aimed at pacifying the protests ended on Friday.
Saturday’s rally saw thousands of people flooding the streets of downtown Paris, with many wearing black balaclavas and holding French flags.
Violence erupted on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, where protesters congregated to take part in the weekly march which began in November. According to the Associated Press, Paris mobilized more police than in previous weeks in an attempt to stave off unrest.
Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, some of whom were carrying firecrackers.
The area around the iconic landmark was quickly enveloped in smoke. Some protesters tried to erect barricades to block streets around the Place Charles de Gaulle, prompting police to respond with crowd control measures.
AP reported that at least one car was set ablaze by demonstrators. The demonstration broke out into a riot, with some protesters looting stores on Champs-Elysees, according to reports.
Video taken at the scene shows cafes and shops with smashed windows and broken furniture, as police stand guard in the street. The Yellow Vests have been quick to distance themselves from looters, claiming that the vandalism is carried out by a radical minority.
A Ruptly producer filming the demonstration was injured by a projectile fired by police. Video footage shows the producer receiving first aid from Yellow Vest medics. __RT.com