A protestor wearing a "yellow vest" (gilet jaune) kneels  in front of the police forces on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris on December 8, 2018 during a protest against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes. - Paris was on high alert on December 8 with major security measures in place ahead of fresh "yellow vest" protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a second weekend in a row. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/AFP/Getty Images)

France ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters detained and tear-gassed


About 1,500 people, largely male and dressed in “gilets jaunes,” the yellow high-visibility jackets that have become the symbol of the movement, converged in the center of Paris chanting “Down with Macron” and “Calm down police.”

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told CNN affiliate BMTV that officers had stopped and searched 481 people as of 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) and made 211 arrests.

Monuments including the Eiffel Tower and many of the French capital’s celebrated department stores remained closed with about 8,000 police on the streets.

It is the fourth in a series of protests that last weekend erupted into the worst riots France had witnessed for decades.

With more riots expected in other parts of the country, Philippe said the government was deploying 89,000 security force members across France.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner vowed Friday to deploy all the means available to ensure the latest protests are not hijacked by what he called “a small minority” who have been “radicalized and fallen into violence and hate.”

A yellow vest protester kneels in front of police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Saturday.

“We have to guarantee the safety of protesters and the right of citizens to move around freely,” he told reporters.

The French retail sector has suffered a loss in revenue of about $1.1 billion since the beginning of the yellow vest protests last month, a spokeswoman for the French retail federation, Sophie Amoros, told CNN.

Amid heightened tensions, police seized 28 petrol bombs and three homemade explosive devices Friday at an area blockaded by protesters in Montauban in southern France, a spokesman for the Tarn-et-Garonne prefecture told CNN.

Yellow vest protesters gather near the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris on Saturday.

On Friday, Paris’ public transport operator, RATP, announced on its website that 36 Metro stations would be closed Saturday. It also said 50 bus lines will have limited to no service.

Dominique Moisi, a foreign policy expert at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne and a former Macron campaign adviser, told CNN the French presidency was not only in crisis but that Europe’s future also hung in the balance.

“In a few months from now, there will be European elections, and France was supposed to be the carrier of hope and European progress. What happens if it’s no longer? If the President is incapacitated to carry that message?” Moisi asked.

“It’s about the future of democracy, as well; illiberal democracies are rising all over the world. And if Macron fails, the future of France risks looking like the presidency of Italy today. And it’s much more serious because we have a centralized state, which plays a major role in the balance of power within Europe.

“But make no mistake, it is a French version of a much more global phenomenon.”

France’s far left CGT movement has pledged support for the movement, which is also supported by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Saskya Vandoorne reported from Paris. Hilary Clarke wrote in London.



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