Thousands of people demonstrated in "yellow vest" protests across France on Saturday, February 2, to express solidarity with protesters wounded by police in previous demonstrations (especially by Defense Ball Launchers [LBDs]), protest police violence, and denounce the policies of the government of President Emmanuel Macron. Saturday's protests marked the 12th consecutive weekend of the "yellow vest" anti-government demonstrations. As many as 58,600 people protested across the country, including an estimated 13,800 people in Paris; "yellow vest" protests were also notably reported in Toulouse, Tours, Valence, Rennes, Caen, Nantes, Rouen, Bordeaux, Marseille, Morlaix, Nancy, Strasbourg, and Lyon, as well as associated transportation disruptions in affected areas.
Clashes between protesters and police were reported in several cities, including in Paris (notably at Place de la République), Toulouse, Strasbourg, Valence, Bordeaux, and Morlaix. Some injuries and arrests were reported in the clashes; at least 22 people were arrested in Paris, where riot police used tear gas to disperse protesters who lit fires and threw projectiles at the officers. Despite such reports of unrest, the Paris protests remained relatively calmer than the "yellow vest" demonstrations and accompanying clashes witnessed on other recent weekends.
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 protests, 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 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 follow all instructions issued by local authorities, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, allow for extra time to reach their destinations, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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