PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of yellow vest protesters marched through Paris, one of seven scattered demonstrations in the French capital Saturday, for the 14th straight weekend.
Security forces moved in, firing tear gas canisters several times, as protesters in the main march tried to leave the approved route or overturned large bins in search of bottles, with some seen arming themselves.
The march began hours earlier at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs-Elysees, the stage of past rioting, and wound through Paris, from moneyed Right Bank streets with high-fashion boutiques to Left Bank student quarters. Violence has marked the weekend protests that started against fuel taxes and grew into a mass movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business policies.
There were no reports of violence in Paris or in other cities where marches too place, notably yellow vest strongholds like Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Polls, and diminishing numbers during weekly marches, suggest public support is fading for the weekend protests, which often descend into shocking violence between demonstrators and police. Many French are asking aloud how long the yellow vest movement will keep up their protestrs, which drain security forces and have dented the French economy.
Emilie Bidois, from the Normandy town of Gisors, who was taking part in the Paris protest, admitted she was growing tired — but remaining determined.
“We’re fed up but we won’t give up. We won’t give up on anything because they want to muzzle us and we want to be heard,” she said. “I will carry on until the movement runs out of steam, if it runs out of steam, but I don’t think it will.”
Leo Peyrade, a 70-year-old Parisian, referred to the violence that has hit numerous protests, often triggered by small extremist groups, and said he has learned to be careful. Last week, a young protester lost four fingers from a grenade. Others have lost eyes.
“Every time I come, some are wounded, arms, legs. I’m careful,” he said. “I can’t run like a young person, not as fast in any event.”
Another protest planned later Saturday was organized to denounce anti-Semitism, after recent anti-Semitic vandal attacks that raised national concern. Some yellow vest protesters have expressed racist views online and on the sidelines of protests, and French authorities fear the weekend protests are radicalizing.
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