Thousands of "yellow vest" protesters demonstrated in cities across France (including in Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rouen, Marseille, and Nantes) on Saturday, January 5, denouncing the rising cost of living and the government and policies of President Emmanuel Macron for an eighth consecutive weekend. Notably, in Paris, protesters gathered at Place de la Bourse, with some later setting fire to motorbikes and barricades on Boulevard Saint-Germain. Police blocked bridges crossing the Seine as protesters launched projectiles at the officers, who responded by firing tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Police also dispersed dozens of demonstrators on Avenue des Champs-Élysées around nightfall (local time). Clashes between police and protesters in Paris left at least one police officer wounded.
Additional protests are likely in Paris and French cities in the near term, particularly on weekends. A heightened security presence, as well as localized transportation and business disruptions, are to be expected near protest sites. Clashes between protesters and security forces are possible, along with arrests of demonstrators.
The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17 to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax, and has since grown to encompass a number of popular grievances against the French government; some protests have turned violent and acts of vandalism and looting have been reported. The government had previously announced a tax increase on fuel prices, including gasoline and diesel, beginning on January 1, 2019, to promote environmentally friendly practices. Although the government announced the withdrawal of the carbon tax project from the 2019 budget on December 5, protests have continued.
The January 5 demonstrations came days after the arrest of Eric Drouet, a leader of the "yellow vest" movement. Supporters maintain the government unjustly arrested Drouet to suppress the protests, sparking calls for increased participation.
Individuals in France are advised to avoid all protests due to the risk of violence and arrest, allow for extra time to reach their destinations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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