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News > France

'Yellow Vest' Protesters Will be Punished: Paris Prosecutor

  • Workmen place a wood panel to protect a broken window on a GAP clothing store the day after clashes during a national day of protest by the

    Workmen place a wood panel to protect a broken window on a GAP clothing store the day after clashes during a national day of protest by the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, Dec. 9, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 December 2018

The Interior Ministry said 136,000 people took part in Saturday's nationwide protests, which turned violent in several cities including Marseille and Toulouse.

Rowdy "yellow vest" demonstrators who started debris fires and damaged businesses in Paris will be punished, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said Sunday.

France's Yellow Vest Movement Spreads as Inequality Deepens

A total of 1,723 people were arrested all over France, and about 89,000 police were deployed nationwide Saturday, which marked the fourth weekend of demonstrations against the high cost of living in the country.

Heitz said the arrested protesters were mostly male, aged under 40 and without any prior criminal record, with some hailing from far-right and far-left parties.

His comments come as many raised their voices against the severe police repression that has seriously injured dozens of students and teenagers with flares over the week, with videos emerging on social media showing blatant humiliating mistreatment of the youth arrested after the protests. 

Named after the fluorescent safety vests that French motorists must carry, the "yellow vest" protests erupted out of nowhere on Nov. 17, when nearly 300,000 demonstrators nationwide took to the streets to denounce high living costs and Macron's neoliberal economic reforms.

Macron will address the nation Monday at 8.00pm, his Elysee office announced Sunday — Macron's first public comments after four weeks of nationwide anti-government demonstrations.

Protesters hail overwhelmingly from rural and small-town France but have a range of different goals, from lower taxes to Macron's resignation. On Saturday, a group of protesters wearing yellow vests were holding banners protesting against a so-called "Marrakech pact" that they wrongfully claimed Macron was signing on the same day. According to the rumors they repeated to the local media, the "pact" would pave the way for massive immigration in France.

"It is clear that we underestimated people's need to make themselves heard," government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio. "It is anger that is difficult to understand from an office in Paris," he acknowledged.

Alain Juppe, the mayor of Bordeaux, where a protester lost his hand after picking up an anti-riot grenade, joined calls from across the political spectrum for Macron to respond. "This disorder must end," the former prime minister tweeted. "The president must speak, and speak quickly."

The protests have shown little sign of easing since they began on Nov 17.

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