200 arrested as ‘yellow jacket’ protests continue in France

Paris [France]: At least 200 people were on Saturday arrested, with the police resorting to firing hundreds of tear gas shells to disperse crowds during the ongoing fourth week of protests across France against President Emmanuel Macron-led government.

Thousands of protestors, most of who were dressed in ‘gilets jaunes,’ the yellow fluorescent vests that have symbolised the movement, gathered at the Champs-Elysees at around 11 am (local time) and chanted “Down with Macron” and “Calm down police,” CNN quoted French police as saying.

A number of France’s monuments, including the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, remained closed today as authorities anticipated a repeat of last week’s violence, deploying over 8,000 policemen in the French capital to maintain order.

Police held 481 people for questioning and arrested 211 arrests as of 11 am (local time), Prime Minister Eduardo Philippe confirmed.

“We have to change the Republic. People here are starving. Some people earn just 500 Euros a month you can’t afford to live. People don’t want to stop because we want the President to go,” Ilda, a yellow jacket protestor told CNN.

Another protestor, Patrice said that he had to participate in the demonstrations due to “the government and the taxes and all these problems. We have to survive.”

The protests on Saturday were the fourth in a series that last week culminated into the worst rioting in France for decades. The government expects more protests in the country in the following days, owing to which, around 89,000 security personnel have been deployed across France, Philippe confirmed.

The protests have caused a loss of over USD 1.1 billion in revenue for the retail sector since the beginning of the protests, Sophie Amoros, a spokesperson for France’s retail federation confirmed. On Wednesday, Philippe announced that the government decided to scrap the hike in fuel taxes amid fears of an outbreak of fresh protests.