Yellow vest protesters set fire to Paris bank amid renewed rioting

Yellow vest protesters set fire to Paris bank amid renewed rioting

French yellow vest protesters have started fires, smashed up luxury shops and clashed with police in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron.

Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees Avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a fire in a building as protests intensified.

French police tried to contain the demonstrators with tear gas and water cannon, with limited success.

A riot police officer aims at protesters (AP)
A riot police officer aims at protesters (AP)

One perilous fire targeted a bank on the ground floor of a seven-storey residential building.

As fire engines rushed over, a mother and her child were rescued as the blaze threatened to engulf their floor. Eleven people in the building, including two firefighters, sustained light injuries, as other residents were evacuated.

The rioting comes at the end of a two-month national debate which Mr Macron organised to respond to protesters’ concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

Yellow vest protests are aimed at Emmanuel Macron’s policies (AP)
Yellow vest protests are aimed at Emmanuel Macron’s policies (AP)

After the weekly protests dwindled recently, protesters were hoping to breathe new life into their movement against a president who they see as favouring the elite.

The violence started on Saturday when protesters threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers along the famed avenue – the scene of previous rioting – and started pounding on the windows of a police van, prompting riot police to retreat.

Simultaneous fires were also put out from two burning newspaper kiosks, which sent black smoke high into the sky. Several protesters smiled as they posed for a photo in front of one the kiosk’s charred remains.

Police struggled to quell some demonstrators (AP)
Police struggled to quell some demonstrators (AP)

Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, as shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste were smashed up, with mannequins thrown out of the broken windows.

Fouquet’s restaurant, which is associated with politicians and celebrities, was vandalised and set on fire. A vehicle burned outside the luxury boutique Kenzo, one of many blazes started on and around the Champs-Elysees.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner said up to 8,000 demonstrators were in Paris on Saturday, including 1,500 “ultraviolent ones that are there to smash things up”.

A news stand burns during a demonstration on the Champs Elysees (AP)
A news stand burns during a demonstration on the Champs Elysees (AP)

Mr Castaner ordered police to retaliate against these “inadmissible” acts, condemning those who “call for violence and are here to ferment chaos in Paris”.

Paris police said 82 people were arrested by mid-afternoon. Police closed down several streets and fanned out around the Right Bank.

Yellow vest groups representing teachers, unemployed people and labour unions were among those who organised dozens of rallies and marches on Saturday in the capital and around France.

Protesters dismissed Mr Macron’s national debate on the economy as empty words and a campaign ploy to gain support for the European Parliament elections in May. Protesters are angry over high taxes, and Mr Macron’s policies seen as coddling business.

Lawyer and protester Francois Boulo told Europe-1 radio: “Those who participated in this great debate are mostly retirees and upper middle class, meaning Macron’s electorate, even though we understood this great national debate was supposed to respond to the yellow vest crisis.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

‘Yellow vest’ protester convicted of assaulting photojournalist at demo‘Yellow vest’ protester convicted of assaulting photojournalist at demo

French protests into 24th week despite president’s pledgesFrench protests into 24th week despite president’s pledges

Macron announces tax cuts in response to yellow vest protestsMacron announces tax cuts in response to yellow vest protests

Anger at yellow vest protesters who urged French police to kill themselvesAnger at yellow vest protesters who urged French police to kill themselves

More in this Section

Suspected knifeman arrested at Manchester shopping centreSuspected knifeman arrested at Manchester shopping centre

Nasa astronauts complete historic all-female spacewalkNasa astronauts complete historic all-female spacewalk

Trump names Perry deputy to replace him at Energy DepartmentTrump names Perry deputy to replace him at Energy Department

Donald Trump praises astronauts on first all-female spacewalkDonald Trump praises astronauts on first all-female spacewalk


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner