The "yellow vest" ("gilets jaunes") movement held protests in cities across France for a sixth consecutive week on Saturday, December 22. Although the scale of the demonstrations was diminished from what has been observed in past weeks, some confrontations between protesters and security forces were reported. In Paris, demonstrators who had originally planned to gather at nearby Versailles, changed plans and instead rallied at Montmartre before marching to other key sites in the capital, including the Marais neighborhood, Rue Rivoli, Place de l'Opéra, and the Saint-Lazare train station. Hundreds of people also rallied on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, and several dozen clashed with security forces in the early evening, prompting police to deploy tear gas and water cannons. In all, some 2000 people demonstrated in the capital on Saturday; according to Paris officials, police had stopped 142 people and taken 16 into custody as of the early evening. Gatherings were also reported in other cities across the country, including in Bordeaux (approximately 2600 protesters), Toulouse (2500 protesters), Lille (1000 protesters), and Nîmes (500 protesters). Sporadic confrontations and some roadblocks were reported surrounding demonstrations.
Meanwhile, one person died in a traffic accident late Friday night, December 21, when a car reportedly collided with a truck stopped at a yellow vest protest at a toll booth near the southern city of Perpignan. Friday's fatality marks the tenth death associated with the protests since they began on November 17.
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.
Individuals located in France are advised to follow all instructions issued by local authorities, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, and allow for extra time to reach their destinations.
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