Smoke Bellows From Eiffel Tower As Paris Streets Set Ablaze by Yellow Vests

Published December 30th, 2018 - 10:35 GMT
Black smoke near the Eiffel Tower as protesters burning Paris?(Twitter)
Black smoke near the Eiffel Tower as protesters burning Paris?(Twitter)

The streets of Paris have been set ablaze during 'yellow vests' protests in Paris this evening leaving the Eiffel Tower shrouded in thick black smoke, after riot police fired tear gas at crowds, Saturday.

Protesters have set cars alight and left them to burn in the streets of the capital city, as a demonstration against the French government's tax policies resumed for the seventh consecutive week.

Shocking images show the iconic tower masked by a covering of smoke and cars engulfed by burning flames sit abandoned on the roadside as demonstrators continued their stand off with authorities.

On Saturday yellow vest demonstrators clashed with riot police who fired tear gas at crowds in Paris today after  demonstrators from the grassroots movement turned out this weekend to resume their stand off with authorities. 

But the turnout for round seven of the popular protests that have rocked France appeared low. 

Despite it being the seventh weekend of protests, momentum for the movement appears to be waning as only small groups took to the streets in Paris and elsewhere in France.

Several hundred people wearing the symbolic hi-visibility vests had gathered near the offices of France Televisions and the BFM TV channel in the centre of the capital shouting 'Fake news' and calling for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.

Protesters spilled on to tram lines and lobbed projectiles at police who replied with tear gas grenades and detained several people.

Tear gas was also fired in Nantes, western France, and protests were expected in Lyon, Bordeaux and Toulouse.

In the southern city of Marseille, police said 900 protesters turned out, amid cries of 'Macron out'.

The official turnout numbers have plunged with the passing weeks. The government recorded 38,600 demonstrators on December 22 compared to 282,000 for the first major demonstrations on November 17.

But leading figures within the movement that has flourished outside of trade union and political groups, say the low numbers are due to the holiday season and January will bring a resurgence of the street protests.

The focus of the protests has morphed from anger over fuel taxes to a broad rebuke of Macron, accused by critics of neglecting the rising costs of living for many in rural and small-town France.

Priscillia Ludosky, who launched the yellow vest petition against fuel price hikes, said: 'We want to get our purchasing power back and have a say in the decisions.'

Government tax concessions to boost disposable income among the low paid 'are not enough', Ludosky said in Marseille.

Hundreds of demonstrators, some chanting 'Journalists - Collaborationists!' traced a path around Paris visiting the central offices of television networks BFM and state-run France Televisions and announced plans to march to other broadcasters.

Some members of the broad-based yellow vest movement accuse leading media of favoring President Emmanuel Macron's government and big business and minimizing the protests - even though they've been the leading news story in France since they kicked off November 17 out of anger at fuel tax hikes.

The movement has increasingly targeted Macron and 40 'yellow vests' on Thursday tried to storm the medieval fort of Bregancon that serves as his official summer retreat on the Mediterranean before being turned back by police.

Die-hard yellow vest supporters believe the movement will live on in 2019 and plans are underway for New Year's Eve protests.

Nearly 8,000 people are listed on Facebook as intending to attend, insisting it will be 'festive and non-violent'.

A few dozen gathered today on the elegant Champs-Elysees, the scene of rioting and violence between demonstrators and riot police earlier this month.

Tear gas, a water cannon and baton charges were used by riot police around the capital during earlier marches.

At its peak at the start of December 89,000 riot police with 750 arrests in one weekend in the capital alone.

Around 126,000 'yellow vests' - named after the fluorescent jackets they wear - were counted by the Interior Ministry during the biggest demonstrations.

This weekend police have been watching carefully, but both police and protesters appeared to be out in much smaller numbers than previous weekends.

The demonstrations have targeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who ceded to several of their demands for tax relief and other economic help.

However many people remain frustrated with his pro-business leadership and are continuing to stage roadblocks at roundabouts around the country.

The movement began November 17 as a protest over fuel taxes and is named after the fluorescent protective gear French motorists must keep in their cars. 

Paris officials said preparations would continue for a fireworks display and sound and light show on the Champs-Elysee, the epicentre of repeated violent action against the government, with the Arc de Triomphe ransacked on December 1.

Tens of thousands of tourists and locals traditionally ring in the new year on the wide shopping boulevard, which rises to the Arc monument.

Yesterday a mob of yellow vest protesters tried to storm the holiday home of President Emmanuel Macron.

Around 50 members of the anti-government movement arrived at the medieval fort of Bregancon, on the Riviera coast near Toulon on Thursday, and remained close by on Friday.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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