Violence erupted in France for the 11th Saturday in a row today as thousands of so-called Yellow Vest protestors demonstrated against President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
It came two days after the head of state had accused British politicians of ‘tearing society apart’ by allowing a Brexit referendum in Britain, but today the chants in his own country were for his resignation.
The worst early violence was in Paris, and in northern towns including Evreux and Rouen, in Normandy, where tear gas and baton charges were used by police to restore order.
Violence erupted in France for the 11th Saturday in a row as thousands of Yellow Vest protestors demonstrated against Macron’s government
Jerome Rodrigues, one of the leaders of the yellow vest movement, is evacuated after getting injured in the eye during clashes between protesters and riot police
‘Yellow vest’ anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in France for the 11th consecutive Saturday on January 26
Police officers aim LDB-40 flashball (non-lethal rubber bullet guns) as protesters from the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) movement take part in the ‘Act IX’ demonstration
Riot police officers clash amid smoke with protesters during an anti-government demonstration
Mass crowds took over main roads in the French capital, where there were 20 arrests for violent disorder and acts of vandalism offences by 4pm.
Barricades were set up in the Place de la Bastille, a traditional protest square, using material stolen from nearby building sites.
Hooded and masked protestors could be seen throwing stones and pieces of wood at police, and fires were lit.
Video posted on social media showed fighting between rival groups, and police using assorted chemical sprays on alleged thugs.
‘There are at least four known Yellow Vests marches taking place in the city, including unauthorised ones,’ said a Paris police spokesman.
Protesters stand behind a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) movement in near the Place de la Bastille in Paris
Protesters reformed with a displayed tenacity ten days after the opening of the ‘great national debate’, the French president’s bid to prove he will take on board the fierce criticism of ‘yellow vest’ protesters who have upended his reform agenda
Protesters hold a banner during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests ‘Gilets Jaunes’ movement in Marseille, southern France
A French police officer apprehends a protester wearing a yellow vest during a demonstration of the ‘yellow vests’ movement in Marseille, France
A yellow vest demonstrator holds up a banner reading ‘Yellow vest, World Revolution against Finance’, as they set up barricades and light fires in Paris
Scattered skirmishes broke out amid mainly peaceful yellow vest marches Saturday in Paris and around France, as the movement kept up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron
‘There have also been threats about demonstrations continuing well into Saturday night. The worst violence in currently in Place de la Bastille.’
Armoured cars and water canon were all on the streets of Paris, along with some 4000 police and gendarmes, because of the repeat threat of the kind of rioting that has broken out since November 17.
This was when the Yellow Vests – who are named after their high visibility motoring jackets – began mobilising on social media.
In previous weeks national monuments including the Arc de Triomphe itself have been vandalised during disturbances.
Today’s ugly scenes came on the 11th Saturday in a row of violence that now routinely reduces cities and towns to battle zones.
Mr Macron has since pledged that any attempt to damage pubic property will be treated with the ‘most severe action possible.’
Despite a range of concessions by President Macron including scrapping green taxes of diesel and petrol, the Vests continue to call for him to step down.
Protestors have been joined by extremists from the far Right and the ultra-Left, as well as anarchists intent on causing as much damage as possible.
The Yellow Vests said their protests would continue indefinitely as they campaign for even more concessions.
The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the ‘President of the Rich’ with polls showing his popularity rating struggling to get above the 30 per cent mark.
Police officers form a group during a demonstration by yellow vest protestors in Paris, for the 11th week in a row, on Saturday 26 January
Yellow vests ‘Gilets Jaunes’ anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in France for the 11th consecutive Saturday on January 26
A French riot police officer shoots a tear gas during a Yellow Vest anti-government demonstration
Riot police officers clash amid smoke with protesters on the 11th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests in France
A protester wearing a yellow vest holds a flare as he takes part in a demonstration of the ‘yellow vests’ movement in Marseille, France, January 26
A protester holds a Picardie flag next to a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the ‘yellow vests’ (gilets jaunes) movement in near the Place de la Bastille in Paris
The Yellow Vest movement kept up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron despite internal divisions and growing worries about protest violence
Despite a range of concessions by President Macron including scrapping green taxes of diesel and petrol, the Vests continue to call for him to step down (pictured: A demonstrator kicks away a teargas canister)
Riot police officers stand guard in front of the railway station in Strasbourg, eastern France, during an anti-government demonstration