Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend and dozens were arrested after pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris, lit fires and threw rocks at officers Saturday.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted that “1,500 troublemakers” were around the Champs-Elysees avenue, outside a perimeter secured by police, who said that 63 people were arrested.
Protesters, including some wearing black hoodies, piled up large plywood planks and other material in the middle of a street near the Arc de Triomphe, and set the debris on fire.
Police fired tear gas to try to push back the protesters around the monument, and used water cannons near Champs-Elysees avenue. Some demonstrators responded by throwing large rocks. Thousands of police were deployed to try to contain the protests.
Castaner also mentioned 200 peaceful protesters, called “yellow jackets” for the fluorescent vests they wear, on the Champs-Elysees.
The situation in Paris contrasted Saturday with protests in other French regions, where demonstrations and road blockades were largely peaceful.
In addition to rising taxes, demonstrators are furious about President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership. A demonstration last weekend in Paris also turned violent.
Access to the Champs-Elysee avenue was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections. Earlier Saturday, police used tear gas to disperse the crowds as some tried to force their way through.
The protests, which began with motorists demonstrating against a fuel tax hike, now involve a broad range of demands related to the country’s high cost of living.
Shopkeepers on the Champs-Elysees prepared for possible new violence, bringing in workers to barricade boutique windows with boards. Decorative iron grates, used last week in barricades, were removed from around trees and outdoor terraces dismantled.
All subway stations in and around the famous avenue were closed for security reasons, Paris public transport company RATP said.
Last week, French authorities said 8,000 people demonstrated on the Champs-Elysees avenue. Some of the protesters torched barriers and plywood boards. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to push back angry demonstrators.
Since the protests kicked off Nov. 17, two people were killed and hundreds injured in accidents stemming from the protests since they kicked off Nov. 17, and hundreds of protesters and police have been injured.
Meanwhile, hundreds of roads blockades were also held quietly across the country.