Yellow Vest protesters filled the streets of Paris and other cities across France where there were clashes with police who were also out in force.
5,000 police officers were deployed in Paris, and 80,000 others nationwide, according to local media.
Armored police cars were seen moving through the city of Toulouse where around 10,000 people took to the streets. There were clashes between the police and the Yellow Vests, with at least ten people detained.
RT reports: Earlier, President Emmanuel Macron launched his “national debates” on the crisis.
Around 84,000 people had joined the protests across the country on Saturday, the Interior Ministry said. The turnout was comparable to that of last week, meaning that the nation-wide debate on the crisis announced by President Emmanuel Macron so far did little to change the people’s moods.
In Paris, the Yellow Vest occupied the Champs-Elysees and the Esplanade des Invalides near the nation’s parliament. People were seen waving national flags and setting off firecrackers.
Some protesters brought cardboard coffins, in memory of the people who have died since the beginning of the protests (the majority was killed in traffic accidents during road blockades). They marched under a large banner reading “Citizens in danger.”
The law enforcers used water cannons and tear gas to disperse some of the protesters in Paris.
“Over in the distance, you might see a water cannon. They’re trying to disperse the protestors,” RT’s Charlotte Dubenskij reported from the heat of the action in Paris. “We did see the protestors trying to break down some of the traffic lights. We’ve also seen tear gas being dispersed… The protestors were trying to throw back the tear gas pellets back at the police.”
After the officers used force, there were people lying on the ground, who “potentially could’ve been injured,” Dubenskij said.
42 protestors were arrested in the capital for carrying illegal items and other violations, the police said.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) January 19, 2019
The demonstrators have denounced Macron’s open letter to the country, in which he announced the launch of the nation-wide debate to defuse the tensions, as nothing but a “huge scam.”
“It contradicts everything he [Macron] says and does,” one of the protestors told RT, with the other saying that he’ll gladly send the letter back to the president.
“We hear a lot of fine words, but see very few decisions that somehow improve the wellbeing of the people. There must be a least a slight increase in living standard after we’ve been crying for help for the past ten weeks. We work hard, but we still have an empty fridge. That’s how we live,” a female demonstrator said.
The Yellow Vest processions took place in Caen and Rouen, both in northern France. The rallies were also held in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Avignon, among other places.
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