Following the escalation of protests in Paris, France’s President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe are voting on appropriate measures – and calling for the „yellow vests“ to engage in dialogue. But they do not have any leadership yet.
In the violent protests of the government-critical „yellow vests“ on Saturday in Paris 133 people were injured. Among them are also 23 security forces, as the Paris police prefecture announced. In addition, 412 people have been arrested, of whom 378 are still in police custody.
The protests against the policies of President Emmanuel Macron had turned into massive violence on Saturday. There were chaotic scenes in the streets of Paris when rioters set up barricades, lighting cars and throwing windows. Hooded men were dragging through the streets with metal bars and axes. The triumphal arch was sprayed with graffiti.
The riots began when, in the afternoon, rioters tried to break a police barrier near the Arc de Triomphe and reach the Champs-Élysées. The security forces used tear gas and water cannons against the protesters. There were about 5000 police officers about 5500 protesters.
The escalation of the situation is said to have involved left-wing extremist groups as well as far-right groups and violent offenders from the suburbs, according to observers. Among the arrested, according to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, however, are also many normal demonstrators, who were incited by marginal groups. Overall, according to Interior Minister Castaner 3000 rioters were identified. The rioters would be brought to trial, warned President Emmanuel Macron.
All options are checked
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner brought the imposition of the state of emergency into play in order to stabilize the security situation. „In everything that leads to more security, I have no taboo, I’m ready to check everything,“ he explained. Macron convened an emergency meeting at the Élysée Palace on Sunday afternoon to coordinate appropriate action.
The session should also be about starting a dialogue with the protesters. The peaceful demonstrators are appealed to sit at the negotiating table, said a government spokesman. The challenge is that the movement has neither a structure nor a leadership so far.
The movement of the „Gilets Jaunes“ („yellow vests“) had begun as a spontaneous protest against the new eco-mineral oil tax and spread rapidly in France using social media. Meanwhile, it has become the reservoir for the growing displeasure over the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
This Saturday was the third in a row on which a nationwide „Yellow West“ action day took place. According to the Ministry of Interior, an estimated 75,000 people had participated by the afternoon. Road blockades have been observed throughout France, and in part the entrances to shopping malls, factories and tank farms have been blocked.
A blockade in southern France caused a fatal accident. A motorist died on Saturday night, having hit his car at a jam against a truck, the French news agency AFP reported, citing the prosecutor.
Among other things, the „yellow vests“ demand tax cuts and an increase in the minimum wage and pensions. The government has made mistakes in communicating its plans to become independent of oil, Castaner said on late Saturday on the private French TV station BFM TV. These plans are accompanied by the significant increases in fuel prices.
Castaner called on the movement to organize and come to the negotiating table. „We are ready to talk to them everywhere, the door is open“, said the Minister of the Interior in the interview. At the same time announced government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, however, also a continuation of the reform policy. „We said that we will not change the course, because the course is good.“