PARIS: Over a hundred demonstrators were arrested at yellow vest protests in Paris as about 7,500 police were deployed to deal with the movement´s radical anarchist “black blocs” strand.
After first marching with the yellow vests, around 1,000 radical demonstrators joined a separate march against climate change where they provoked clashes with police, authorities said.
Two bank buildings were damaged in the clashes, along with motor scooters, windows and other property. Some activists built makeshift roadblocks which they then torched.
The climate march organizers urged protesters to go home to avoid the clashes which involved teargas and baton charges.
The yellow vest movement erupted 10 months ago and blindsided President Emmanuel Macron, whom protesters accuse of being out of touch with the needs of ordinary French people.
“We are assembling just to say that we can´t make ends meet. (The protest) is not only against the president, it´s against the system,” said a female protester who did not give her name.
Others denounced what they said was overreach by security forces.
“This is hell. We´re fewer than 100, and police charge. That´s David versus Goliath,” said demonstrator Pierre, his eyes red with teargas.
The weekly demonstrations — Saturday was the 45th — prompted Macron to loosen the state´s purse strings to the tune of nearly 17 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in wage boosts and tax cuts for low earners, but tapered off over the summer.
However, it remains to be seen whether the movement will regain the momentum of the winter and early spring, when the protests often descended into violent clashes with security forces, especially in Paris.
By the afternoon, police had arrested 106 demonstrators, police headquarters said, adding that some had been found to carry hammers or petrol canisters.
“We are being treated like criminals,” said a woman, who identified herself as Brigitte.