Emmanuel Macron, President of France, is set to hold an emergency meeting with senior ministers on Sunday in the aftermath of riots that turned violent.
Thousands of masked protesters, of the group Gilets Jaunes – French for Yellow Jackets– fought with the law enforcement agencies and torched cars, houses, banks and property. The destruction was so widespread that the Paris authorities had to hire extra trucks to clean the wreckage. Even the famous Champs-Élysées’s walls were covered in graffiti calling for Macron’s resignation.
The government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said that imposing a state of emergency is not ruled out but the government is trying to resolve the issue without taking drastic steps, and looking at all possible options.
3. The police responded aggressively to the protesters
In the clashes between the police and protesters, 130 have been injured, while one protestor is in critical condition in a coma. The authorities have made 400 arrests, and is still detaining more than 300 people.
The president stated that the protesters have legitimate anger and the government will listen to them, but the peaceful protests have been hijacked by violent rioters and they will be brought to justice. He added: “No cause justifies that security forces are attacked, shops pillaged, public or private buildings set on fire, pedestrians or journalists threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is sullied.”
The first tear gas was fired on Saturday morning when peaceful gilets jaunes arrived at the Champs Élysées. The spontaneous citizens’ movement, began in mid-November protesting against rising fuel taxes but it has morphed into a much broader anti-government and anti-Macron one challenging inequality and poor living standards. Some 5,000 peaceful gilets jaunes demonstrators marched down the Champs Élysées at midday on Saturday, some carrying roses, many shouting: “Macron, resign!” and singing the national anthem.
Masked protesters defiled the arc de triomphe, breaking into the 19th century monument that contains grave of one unknown soldier who fought in the World War I. The gift shop was smashed and graffiti was made on the historical building.
More than 75,000 gilets jaunes demonstrated all day on Saturday in cities or blocked roads and toll booths, with some briefly storming the runway at the Nantes airport and others blocking major motorway junctions or targeting prefects’ offices and tax offices.
On Sunday morning, Paris authorities were attempting to clean the facade of the Arc de Triomphe which had been covered in graffiti, including in large black letters: