Where will France's 'yellow vest' protests lead?

Where will France's 'yellow vest' protests lead?

Where will France's 'yellow vest' protests lead?

Dramatic photographs offer a snapshot into the volatile atmosphere surrounding the streets of France at present, as "yellow vests" continue to demand more concessions from the government following Macron's U-turn on the fuel tax.

Nevertheless, a beefed up police presence appears to have prevented the widespread violence that left more than 280 police officers injured during last weekend's rallies.

In addition to the closure of the Eiffel Tower, many shops and museums across Paris, including the Louvre, the Orsay Museum and the Grand Palais, will be shut on Saturday for safety reasons.

The grassroots movement began as resistance against a rise in taxes for diesel and gasoline, but quickly expanded to encompass frustration at stagnant incomes, the growing cost of living and other grievances.

While scattered scuffles broke out Saturday around central Paris, the action seemed less violent overall at midday than at the same time a week ago, when crowds defaced the Arc de Triomphe, one of the city's most revered monuments, and rampaged in the surrounding high-end neighborhood.

As for Trump's claim that protesters have chanted, "We want Trump", French news wire Agence France-Presse and leading French daily Le Monde said their reporters found no evidence to support that.

Police are searching people throughout central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists, who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations.

As demonstrators were clashing with police in Paris and protests were being held across France on Saturday, Mr Trump said: "The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris".

Police posted a video on Twitter of officers tackling a protester and confiscating his unsafe material, which appeared to be primarily a tennis racket.

While protests did not turn as intensely violent in Paris as the week before, over 700 Yellow Vest protesters were arrested by police and dozens of people required hospital treatment following clashes, including several riot police officers. Protesters hurled stones and firecrackers as they marched through Brussels. Protesters ripped off the plywood protecting the windows and threw flares and other projectiles as they were repeatedly repelled by tear gas and water cannon.

Opinion polls show 70 to 80 percent of respondents backing the protesters, even as Macron's approval ratings plunged to record low of 23 percent in an Ifop-Fiducial survey this past week. No injuries have been reported.

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Philippe said some 89,000 police were being mobilised for protests nationwide, including 8,000 in Paris, where a dozen armoured vehicles were being deployed for the first time in decades.

In response, "Macron, resign!" has become the main slogan of the "yellow vest" demonstrators.

But that didn't deter many people from trying to march on the presidential palace Saturday.

"We are here to tell (Macron) our discontent. Me, I'm not here to break things because I have four children so I am going to try to be safe for them because they are afraid", protester Myriam Diaz told the Associated Press. "People don't want to stop because we want the President to go".

As with many modern street movements, there is no leader or single clear aim.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner urged calm.

The protesters are angry at Macron and high taxes, among other problems.

Since the anti-government unrest began on November 17 in reaction to a sharp increase in diesel taxes, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents.

The national Federation of French markets said that Christmas markets have been "strongly impacted" and that its members registered "an average fall of their estimated figures between 30 and 40 percent since the beginning of the yellow vest movement".

None of the yellow vest protesters have said they are demonstrating against the 2015 deal.

Angela Charlton, Lori Hinnant, Srdjan Nedeljkovic, Philippe Marion and Milos Krivokapic in Paris contributed.

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