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Clashes break out between police and some Yellow Vest rioters in Paris

  • 20 Apr 2019

Many protesters are frustrated that the international effort to help fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral has eclipsed the five-month-old Yellow Vest movement against wealth inequality.

A protester lies on the ground as police officers advance at a demonstration during Act XXIII (the 23rd consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the Yellow Vests movement in Paris, France, April 20, 2019. ( Reuters )

Clashes broke out between dozens of demonstrators and police in Paris on the 23rd Saturday of Yellow Vest protests after authorities warned that rioters could return to the French capital to spark a new wave of violence.

Dozens of black-hooded demonstrators threw rocks at police and some set fire to motor-cycles in the centre of French capital, according to Reuters TV footage. Trash cans and a several scooters were also set ablaze.

Police responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades. Some officers also marched toward demonstrators to control the crowd and funnel it to Paris' Place de la Republique, where they were authorised to demonstrate.

As of 1300 GMT, 110 people had been arrested and placed in custody, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

French television showed images of volunteer medics treating a protester lying on the ground.

TRT World's Craig Copetas has more.

'What about for us, the poor?'

Several demonstrators clearly alluded to the catastrophic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, which prompted an outpouring of national sorrow and a rush by rich families and corporations to pledge around $1.12 billion (1 billion euros) for its reconstruction.

"Millions for Notre Dame, what about for us, the poor?" read a sign worn by a demonstrator.

"Everything for Notre Dame, nothing for the miserables," read another sign that evoked Victor Hugo's well-known novel.

Protesters pass a motorbike on fire at a demonstration during Act XXIII (the 23rd consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the Yellow Vests movement in Paris, France, April 20, 2019.(Reuters)

The city was on high alert after Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, said domestic intelligence services had informed him of a potential return of rioters intent on wreaking havoc in Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier and Bordeaux, in a repeat of violent protests on March 16.

Large portions of the Paris metro network were closed and about 60,000 police were deployed across France, authorities said.

The so-called Yellow Vest protests erupted in mid-November originally over fuel price hikes and the high cost of living but spiralled into a broader movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his drive for economic reforms.

The French leader was due to unveil policies to quell the grassroot movement on Monday, before the blaze at Notre Dame forced him to cancel the speech. He is now set to make his announcements next Thursday. 

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