Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1544306351

Paris protests: Police deploy water cannon as gilets jaunes activists burn trees in French capital

Seventeen police officers among 135 injured during unrest across France

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 08 December 2018 22:57 GMT
Police deploy water cannons and rubber bullets as gilets jaunes activists burn cars in French capital

More than 1,000 people were arrested across France as security forces deployed tear gas and water cannon to tackle anti-government protests.

Rioters hurled missiles, torched cars and trees and vandalised shops and restaurants as the ‘gilets jaunes’ staged their fourth weekend of demonstrations.

The violence also spread to Amsterdam and Brussels, where a crowd attempted to reach the European Union headquarters and other official buildings.

In Paris an estimated 10,000 people marched up a Champs-Elysees decked out in pink Christmas lights and police charged protesters on horseback. A total of 620 people were arrested in the French capital alone.

Rioting also broke out in Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse, although the nationwide demonstrations were generally much more peaceful than a week ago.

As darkness fell, interior minister ​Christophe Castaner announced that the violence was “under control” but condemned it as “totally unacceptable”.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

He said 135 people, including 17 police officers, were injured across the country and vowed that the security forces would remain vigilant overnight as there were reports of groups of youths looting shops.

The “yellow vests” movement – a reference to the fluorescent safety outfit French motorists keep in their cars – began on 17 November as a backlash to a rise in fuel taxes.

They have since come to encompass general anger and disillusionment with President Emmanuel Macron’s government and high living costs. Four people have died during the protests so far.

Amid warnings that far-right, anarchist and anti-capitalist groups would try to hijack the demonstrations, nearly 90,000 police and other security personnel were deployed across the country from 4am on Saturday.

Shops, restaurants and cafes were boarded up and shuttered while tourist destinations such as The Louvre, Eiffel Tower and the Paris Opera were also closed.

Donald Trump reacted to reports of rioting in the French capital by suggesting that the unrest could be blamed on the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. He also claimed that protesters were shouting “We want Trump”.

If you want to read how events unfolded, read our live coverage below.


Welcome to our live coverage of Saturday's ongoing protests in Paris

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:26

Prized monuments, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, have been closed as demonstrators march through central the French capital

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:27

Police in Paris have fired tear gas at a group of yellow vested protesters who tried to march on the French presidential palace

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:28

211 people have been arrested in Paris after police found them carrying weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal balls.

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:36

Christophe Castaner, France's Interior Minister, has urged peaceful protesters to avoid "hooligans".

"The troublemakers can only be effective when they disguise themselves as yellow vests," he told online news site Brut.

"Violence is never a good way to get what you want. Now is the time for discussion."

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:44
Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 10:54

Police officers are seizing protective equipment from journalists and barring some protesters from boarding trains to Paris, as part of security measures designed to prevent rioting. 

Officers positioned at train stations around France are under orders to verify all passengers and turn away equipment that could be used to "cause damage to people or property", a national police spokesperson said. 

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 11:06

The "yellow vest" movement has crossed borders and is gathering momentum in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Hundreds of police officers have been deployed in Brussels, where rallies are taking place today outside the main European Union institutions.

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 11:15

Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, has said that authorities will do everything possible to avoid further violence.

"We will do all we can so that today can be a day without violence, so that the dialogue that we started this week can continue in the best possible circumstances," he said on national television. 

Last weekend saw the worst riot in decades in Paris. with over 400 people arrested. 

Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 11:21
Zamira Rahim8 December 2018 11:24

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in