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Who are the ‘Yellow Vests’ protesting in Paris, France, Macron anger

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Paris Riots
Protesters
wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers’ protest
against higher diesel taxes, face off with French riot police
during clashes at the Place de l’Etoile near the Arc de Triomphe
in Paris, France, December 1, 2018.

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

  • Protestors calling themselves the “Yellow Vests” and donning
    high-visibility tops have been violently clashing with police in
    Paris in protest of French President Emmanuel Macron for weeks.
  • On Saturday, the third weekend of demonstrations saw Paris’
    Arc de Triomphe stormed and vandalized in protests the police met
    with riot gear and tear gas.
  • After initially dismissing the protesters, Macron called for
    his Prime Minister to meet with the group after Saturday’s
    destruction.
  • Here’s what the group wants and what has happened so
    far. 

The French protest group “Des Gilets Jaunes,” or the “Yellow
Vests,” have lowered Paris to its knees for a third weekend in a
row by burning cars, smashing in store-fronts, defacing national
symbols, and clashing with police. 

Over 36,000 people protested on Saturday across France, but 5,000
of those were in Paris, where a riot against police started,
resulting in 412 arrests, according to authorities.


paris demo arch
PARIS, FRANCE
– DECEMBER 01: Yellow vest protesters clash with riot police as
part of demonstration against rising fuel taxes near Arc de
Triomphe de l’Etoile in Paris, France on December 01,
2018.

ELYXANDRO CEGARRA/Anadolu
Agency/Getty Images


The cost of the rioting —
the worst in Paris since 1968
— could reportedly be in the
hundreds of millions of euros.

On Saturday, police fired 12,000 canisters of tear gas and water
cannons at protestors in multiple street battles, according to
Radio One Europe, which
injured at least 80 people.

The protest has spread across France, since starting on November
17, into Belgium and Italy, but Paris’ protests are the most
violent examples, as others have been mainly road-blocks and
peaceful marches. 

Who are they and what do they want?

The Yellow Vests mobilized over rising gas prices mainly caused
by a new tax on diesel fuel which has jacked up prices 16% in
2018.

Diesel went from an average €1.24 ($1.41) per litre to €1.48
($1.69,) according to UFIP, France’s oil industry federation,
cited by CNN.

Macron’s government said
this is to be more environmental
and to go green, but in
rural areas which don’t have public transport or car sharing
services, driving is the main option.
Macron said
these taxes are necessary to help make the
country a low-emission economy.


French President Emmanuel Macron
French
President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a conference at the UCL
university in Louvain-La-Neuve, on the last day of an official
state visit in Belgium, November 20, 2018.


Yves
Herman/Reuters



The group is not part of a political party, and their anger has
also spread beyond fuel prices to the French government as whole.

Protestors in Paris told the Guardian they were
marching as living costs have risen, unemployment is growing
amongst the young, and the government is doing little to help the
poorest in society.

President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership is central to this anger
and they say he and his government don’t care about ordinary
people.

Scrawled across the Arc de Triomphe, a monument to those that
stormed the Bastille and dismantled the ruling royal authority in
the city, protesters wrote: “We have the right to revolt,”
“Macron resign,” and “The Yellow Vests will triumph!”

What are the yellow vests they wear all about?

The price of fuel
is central to the group’s manifesto, so members all wear these
high-visibility yellow vests which al

l French motorists are forced
by a 2008 law to have in their cars or vans when on the
road.


paris protests
Demonstrators
run by a burning fire near the Arc de Triomphe during a
demonstration Saturday, Dec.1, 2018 in Paris.


Thibault
Camus/AP



The protests are widespread across France

During the first official protest, on November 17, one person
died and 227 people were injured across France. There were 2,000
separate protests and 73 people were taken into police custody,

CNN quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

Read more: Photos
show Paris streets erupting in protest and ‘extreme and
unprecedented violence’

The first protest
was mainly organised through a website
, set up to coordinate
protests across France.

At the
second set of protests, on November 24
, 5,000 police were
deployed in Paris to contain protestors around the
Champs-Élysées, and barriers were erected to funnel the crowd’s
path.

But some set fires, ripped down street signs, and pulled up
paving stones and hurled them at police, the BBC
reported
.

French officials said 40 people were arrested and 19 people were
injured, including four police officers.  

They now have Macron’s ear


Paris demo fire
PARIS,
FRANCE – DECEMBER 01: Protesters clashes with riot police on Foch
avenue next to the Place de l’Etoile, setting cars ablaze during
a Yellow Vest protest on December 1, 2018 in Paris, France. The
‘Yellow Vest’ is a protest movement without political affiliation
that rallies against taxes and rising fuel prices. (Photo by
Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images)

Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images

In the aftermath, Macron tweeted:
“Shame on those who attacked them. Shame on those who have abused
other citizens and journalists. Shame on those who tried to
intimidate the elect. No place for this violence in the
Republic.”


Most recently, in Paris on Saturday — December 1
— 100 cars
were burnt, dozens of restaurants and shops were sacked, the Arc
de Triomphe was defaced, and Paris’ tourist areas were littered
with debris.

On Monday, after returning from the G20 summit in Argentina,
Macron called an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Edouard
Philippe, who he instructed to meet with the Yellow Vests on
Tuesday to hear out their demands. 

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