Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Eiffel Tower, Louvre shut down as France braces for new riots

Eiffel Tower, Louvre shut down as France braces for new riots

French riot police have fired tear gas and clashed with "yellow vest" protesters in central Paris during the latest wave of demonstrations against the high cost of living that have shaken President Emmanuel Macron's authority.

There have been 8,000 officers and 12 armoured vehicles sent into Paris today as more than 1,000 people gathered in the city centre.

Macron's government warned that Saturday's "yellow vest" protests in Paris will be hijacked by "radicalized and rebellious" crowds and become the most risky yet after three weeks of demonstrations.

This is now the fourth weekend of protests, with last week seeing hundreds of people arrested and many injured on the streets. The Nicolas wine chain, one of France's biggest retailers, canceled all its wine tasting sessions scheduled for Saturday.

"We need to protect culture sites in Paris but also everywhere in France", Culture Minister Franck Riester told RTL radio.

Laurent Saint-Martin, a senior member of the ruling Republic On The Move (LREM) party, said around 40 of the students were masked and intent on carrying out vandalism and arson.

The students were detained by police in the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie, in unrest that has spread to dozens of schools during three weeks of anti-government demonstrations.

French police, wearing riot gear, tried to stop and search protesters entering the Champs Elysees, but such efforts were eventually abandoned with the flow of thousands of demonstrators.

Despite the climbdown, the "yellow vests" continue to demand more concessions from the government, including lower taxes, higher salaries, cheaper energy costs, better retirement provisions and even Macron's resignation.

The climbdown over the fuel tax - meant to help France move to a greener economy - marks a major shift for Mr Macron, who has previously vowed not to be swayed, like previous presidents, by large street protests.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Saturday once again attacked the Paris agreement on fighting climate change, citing the ongoing protests in the French capital as proof that he was right to reject the pact.

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By 8.40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people. So the protesters tried other routes, marching through the prime shopping district that includes the high-end stores of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps and the Palais Garnier opera house.

Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed as much of the city-centre went on effective lockdown.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged calm.

The government later scrapped the plan but the yellow vest protesters were not placated.

Jan Dijkgraaf, editor of a Dutch "resistance newspaper" is calling for peaceful protests in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Prominent "yellow vest" protester Benjamin Cauchy has called on Mr Macron to meet a delegation to defuse a situation that he said had brought France "to the brink of insurrection and civil war". The Yellow Jackets movement has no clear leader and has attracted groups of people with a wide variety of demands.

Yellow Vest mayhem has hit the country for the 4th consecutive weekend.

Paris police, fearing that radical protesters could turn street furniture and construction materials into makeshift weapons, on Friday were removing all glass containers, railings and construction machines in high-risk areas.

Four people have been killed in accidents since the unrest began on November 17.

Macron had previously vowed to stay the course in his bid to shake up the French economy and not be swayed by mass protests that have forced previous presidents to back down.

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