Though the number of protesters at Saturday’s 18th so-called yellow vest demonstrations was well below the movement’s December numbers of around 300,000 people, this weekend’s marches were marked by frustrated Parisians breaking storefront windows of exclusive shops, restaurants and banks along the pricey Champs Elysees, and with tear gas and water cannons in response by police.
This weekend’s protest comes after French President Emmanuel Macron finished two months of national public debates on what policies people want to see enacted. Across the country, residents expressed what the yellow vests having been demanding since November when the protests began — lower taxes, higher wages and for the government to stop slashing pensions, subsidies and other social services.
The weekly protests began last November when Parisians protested over over an increased fuel tax, but the movement morphed into a widely supported revolt against the administration’s neoliberal economic reforms and inequality. Yellow vests say the president, a former banker, continues to be aligned with the country’s rich elite.
Laurent Casanova told AFP said he was at the protests to mark the end of the national consultations.
"We have been patient but now we want results," said the technical engineer.
After a Saturday night crisis meeting with his ministers, including French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner,
Macron said: "We are attached to constitutional rights, but we've got people who through all means quite simply want to make a wreck of the republic, to break things and destroy, running the risk of getting people killed," said the leader whose popularity has sunk to 28 in recent months.
"I want us to very precisely analyze things and as quickly as possible take strong, complementary decisions so this doesn't happen again," he said.