Police arrest 'yellow vest' demonstrators as clashes break out

Journalists reported scuffles between police and protesters in the afternoon

Afp April 20, 2019
A protester in wheelchair sits amid tear gas during clashes with police on April 20, 2019 in Paris, as thousands of "Yellow Vest" (Gilets Jaunes) protesters took to the streets a 23rd week of anti-government marches. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS: French police said they arrested more than 100 "yellow vest" demonstrators in Paris on Saturday as clashes broke out with protestors taking to the streets for a 23rd week of anti-government marches.

Journalists reported scuffles between police and protesters in the afternoon, after hours of calm, as police used anti-riot grenades and tear gas to disperse marchers in the centre of the French capital.

Some protesters threw bottles and other objects at police and set fire to vehicles, safety barriers and bins.

Police headquarters reported 126 arrests and 11,000 checks on individual protesters.

Paris seemed to bear the brunt of the protests but demonstrations also took place in other French cities, including Bordeaux and Toulouse.

"We want to live with dignity," said retired fisherman Joel Blayon at a protest just north of Paris.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law legislation giving security forces greater powers at demonstrations but which opponents say violate civil liberties.

One measure banned protesters from covering their faces, but France's Constitutional Council, its highest constitutional authority, refused to give the green light to one of the most contentious parts of the legislation.

It would also have given the authorities the power to ban from demonstrations any individual "posing a particularly serious threat to public order".

The "yellow vest" movement is demanding changes to the government's social and fiscal policies.

Interior ministry figures put the number of demonstrators nationwide at 9,600 at 2 pm (1200 GMT), including 6,700 in the capital.

Protest organisers have repeatedly said the official figures are underestimated.

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