Yellow Vests, in First Protest of 2019, Are Met With Tear Gas

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Clashes were reported in cities across France on Saturday as the government rolled out a tougher response to Yellow Vest protesters who turned out for an eighth weekend of demonstrations, though in numbers far smaller than during the movement’s peak.

In Paris, police fired tear gas at protesters who marched through the center of the city, days after President Emmanuel Macron vowed in a New Year’s address to restore order “without compromise.”

The Yellow Vest movement, which takes its name from the fluorescent hazard vests adopted by the protesters as a sign of economic distress, began as an outcry over rising fuel taxes and expanded into a broad campaign over money woes.

Saturday’s protests were largely peaceful, though on the Champs-Élysées, which was closed to traffic for hours, some protesters threw rocks at the police.

A lawmaker and Macron ally, Benjamin Griveaux, had to be evacuated from his office in the capital, according to the newspaper Le Parisien, after protesters stormed his office. And in Nantes, discarded Christmas trees were set ablaze in a square.

Turnout has decreased sharply from the mass demonstrations of November that saw hundreds of thousands of people take to streets across France, bringing the center of Paris to a standstill.

A Yellow Vest leader, Eric Drouet, was arrested this past week on charges of organizing an undeclared demonstration, setting off concerns of a backlash that would re-energize the demonstrations.

But on Saturday, only about 3,500 took part in protests in Paris and about 25,000 nationwide, according to BFMTV.

The weeks of unrest have pressured Mr. Macron to act. In mid-December, he scrapped a contentious fuel tax increase and promised extra cash for minimum wage earners and tax cuts for pensioners.



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