'Yellow vest' protests across France trigger spurts of violence, calls for calm

'Yellow vest' protests across France trigger spurts of violence, calls for calm

The "Yellow Vest" protests are named after the garments that drivers have to carry in their cars by law in France in case of emergency.

Violence was reported in Montpellier and Troyes, where demonstrators tried to enter prefectures, and in Avignon, where some attempted to break into the Court of Justice.

The latest Paris violence broke out on the fringes of a demonstration by about 3,000 gilets jaunes.

On Saturday, protesters reiterated a call for Macron to resign.

"But it has since morphed into a campaign against the high cost of living and the government of President Emmanuel Macron, seen by many as arrogant and beholden to big business". Macron said France "wants to build a better future" while imploring people to respect each other.

A small group attacked the office of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, who was forced to escape through a back door. These include a nationwide debate with citizens on ecological, fiscal and institutional questions, the results of which he says will feed into the policy-making process. One protester was injured and at least two others were arrested, police said.

While the yellow vests have made no point-by-point list of demands and no central leadership, it is widely believed that one of their key goals is to remove Macron altogether.

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The ex-boxer, identified by French media as 37-year-old Christophe Dettinger, is a former heavyweight fighter who reportedly works for the local government in the Essonne area south of Paris.

Tear gas is thrown along the Seine River banks during a protest in Paris, Jan. 5, 2019.

Smoke and tear gas wafted above the Orsay Museum and the gold dome of the French Academy as riot police, almost invisible at the start of the demonstration, moved front and center when protesters deviated from an officially approved path.

Crowds of tourists streamed away from the Musée d'Orsay modern art museum on the riverside as the acrid fumes of tear gas filled the air.

Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a auto were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain, a main Left Bank thoroughfare. A line of parked cars burned on a nearby street.

Thousands more rallied in cities including Bordeaux and Toulouse in southwest France, Rouen in the north of the country and Marseille in the southeast.

The interior ministry put the number of protesters who took to the streets on Saturday at 50,000, compared with 32,000 on December 29 when the movement appeared to be weakening after holding a series of weekly Saturday protests since mid-November.

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