Paris Burning: Luxury Stores Looted and Burned in Latest Yellow Vest Uprising

Sergio Conner
March 17, 2019

A Yellow Vest protester waves a French national flag while standing behind a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on 16 March 2019, during the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations called by the "Yellow Vest" (gilets jaunes) movement.

French yellow vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

Paris police say more than 100 people have been arrested amid rioting in the French capital by yellow vest protesters.

Eleven people suffered minor injuries in the bank blaze, the fire service told AFP.

A woman who was evacuated with her four children, including a nine-month-old baby, fought back tears as she told Agence France-Presse of their escape down the stairs from their third-floor apartment.

In a statement, the national police denounced the "mindless violence, cowardly attacks" and stressed their determination to guarantee public order against "provocateurs and vandals".

Yellow vest protests also took place several other French cities.

What started out last November as a backlash against Mr Macron's plan to hike fuel taxes has swelled into a wider movement against the government for ignoring the hardship faced by poorer households in France.

Around half a million people turned out at townhall-style meetings held around the country over the past two months. Riot police then retreated, as did a water cannon, with protesters kicking the side of the large truck.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the protests were small compared with a few weeks ago, with only 8,000 people participating in Paris.

Cobblestones flew in the air and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees.

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Protesters are angry over high taxes and Macron policies seen as coddling business.

But many "yellow vests" dismissed the consultation as a smoke-screen.

On social media, "yellow vest" leaders had hinted at the arrival of sympathisers from Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and even Poland.

"Macron, we're coming to get you at home", some of the protesters chanted, referring to the presidential palace near the Champs-Elysees.

From early morning protesters began pouring into the capital by train and auto from around the country for what they called an "ultimatum" to Macron.

Over 5 000 police were deployed, along with several armoured police vehicles, and several metro stations were closed. The grassroots movement appears to be fizzling out but some are trying to ignite protestors again.

But the measures failed to quell the anger of the demonstrators, who accuse the former investment banker of being elitist and favouring the rich.

"It's unfortunate but this is the only way we can make ourselves heard", a "yellow vest" who traveled from the southeastern Bourgogne region for a protest billed as an "ultimatum" to Macron, said as he looked on.

The protest was one of several planned in Paris on Saturday, where climate campaigners also gathered in their thousands to demand Macron go further on greening the economy.

A protester throws an object at the Louis Vuitton luxury shop on Champs-Elysées avenue on Saturday.

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