Protests in Paris erupted with violence on Saturday as hundreds of rioters took to the streets amid a strong police presence and clouds of tear gas to repel protesters.
Videos uploaded to Twitter showed rioters dressed in black trampling on a parked car and then setting it on fire. Another video showed an elderly man intervening to stop a rioter from crashing a car, only to be pushed to the ground by the rioter.
By 1 p.m. Paris time, police had made more than 150 arrests, mostly on charges of hidden weapons, according to a tweet from the Paris police that also showed an image of the knives, sticks and clubs they had seized from the protesters.
The black-clad anarchists who raged on the city streets mingled with hundreds of peaceful protesters demanding social justice and greater environmental protection.
Jean-Marie Bigard, a self-proclaimed comedian and presidential candidate for the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Jackets, was booed by Yellow Jackets members at one of the marches in Paris and called “collaborator”
The national day of protests was called by the movement after a break during the coronavirus blockade. Several hundred protesters gathered near two squares in Paris, where the shops had been closed with wooden boards waiting for the authorized marches. The police banned the group’s protests two years ago, when riots against the government of French President Emmanuel Macron turned violent.
The yellow jackets movement was born among workers encamped in road clubs to protest against the increase in fuel taxes in 2018. They wore the yellow jackets that French drivers are obliged to keep in their vehicles in an emergency. The movement quickly turned into a crusade for environmental and social justice, with protesters demanding higher taxes on the rich and an end to the Macron government.