According to the French Ministry of the Interior, an estimated 51,400 demonstrators participated in "yellow vest" protests across France, including some 4000 demonstrators in Paris, on Saturday, February 9, to denounce the policies of the government of President Emmanuel Macron. These numbers represent a 12 percent decrease over the number of demonstrators participating in the protests organized on Saturday, February 2, which were attended by 58,600 demonstrators nationwide, including 10,500 in Paris.
On February 9, demonstrators rallied in Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Lille, Nantes, Rennes, Brest, Caen, and other urban centers throughout the country. In Paris, demonstrators rallied on the Champs-Elysées before marching to the National Assembly at approximately 13:00 (local time). According to police reports, protesters attempted to break through fences protecting the National Assembly, leading police officers to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd. One protester was severely wounded while reportedly attempting to pick up a rubber-ball grenade. Protesters reportedly set fire to several vehicles near the Eiffel Tower and in the city's 15th arrondissement. Furthermore, overnight on February 8-9, an arson attack reportedly targeted the residence of President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand in Motreff (Brittany). Nevertheless, it remains unclear as of Sunday, February 10, if the incident is connected to the ongoing protests.
Similar protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks. A heightened security presence is to be expected near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely in the vicinity of any demonstration.
The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, 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, although the scale of the protests has diminished since their height in December. Some 1700 demonstrators and 1000 police officers have been wounded in clashes since the protests began.
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.
Individuals in France are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, budget extra time to reach their destinations if traveling through areas affected by demonstrations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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