omersukrugoksu/iStock(PARIS) — French police fired water cannons and tear gas in Paris on Saturday to drive back protesters marking the first anniversary of the anti-government yellow vest demonstrations.
Demonstrators, many clad in black and hiding their faces, vandalized an HSBC bank at the Place d’Italie. They set trash cans on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police while building barricades.
Several cars were also set ablaze.
Clashes broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret, close to the Arc de Triomphe, as protesters were preparing to march across the city towards Gare d’Austerlitz. Police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road.
“In the face of thugs who target them, firefighters and police intervene to contain the excesses, put an end to abuses and proceed to arrests,” French National Police said in a translated message. “Peaceful protesters, we guarantee the public peace to allow you to freely express your opinions. Help us: disassociate yourself from violent groups.”
The yellow vest protests, named for the high-visibility jackets worn by demonstrators, erupted in November 2018 over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living. The demonstrations spiraled into a broader movement against French President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reforms.
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