Local authorities in Nantes announced in the evening (local time) on Saturday, September 14, that they had arrested 35 "Yellow vest" activists following a protest that took place in the city center earlier in the day. Police officers have said that approximately 1800 people participated in the demonstration that resulted in the injury of five security officials. Protesters began throwing projectiles at security forces who then used armored tanks, water cannons, and tear gas to disperse protesters. Local police have said that they discovered 22 Molotov cocktails, ten mortars, and other improvised weapons in the vicinity of the protest.
A heightened security presence in Nantes is anticipated in the coming days, and near all demonstrations across the country in the coming weeks. Lingering localized transportation and business disruptions are likely. Additional "yellow vest" protests are to be expected across France over the coming weeks, particularly on Saturdays.
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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