Clashes were reported in Lyon and Nantes amid "yellow vest" protests scheduled nationwide on Saturday, May 11. Some 18,600 people participated in the demonstrations across the country, including some 1200 in Paris and between 2000-3000 in separate protests in Lyon and Nantes. The May 11 protests marked the lowest turnout recorded since the protest movement began in November 2018.
Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters near Place Bellecour in Lyon, as well as in Nantes, where demonstrators reportedly threw rocks, bottles, and other objects at police. At least ten police officers were wounded in the clashes in both cities. The protest march near Place Jussieu in Paris passed off without major incident.
Additional "yellow vest" protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays. A heightened security presence is anticipated near related demonstrations. Localized transportation and business disruptions are likely near protest sites, and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
The "yellow vest" movement began on November 17, 2018, to protest rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax. It 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. Demonstrations have continued despite French government proposals to address protesters' concerns. President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of reforms on April 25, including closing corporate tax loopholes, income tax cuts, linking pensions to inflation by 2020, and reforms to referendum processes, among others.
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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