June 8, 2019 / 7:20 PM / 2 months ago

Minor clashes break out on 30th weekend of French 'yellow vests' protests

PARIS (Reuters) - Minor clashes broke out on Saturday during the 30th consecutive weekend of “yellow vests” anti-government protests in France, although the numbers of demonstrators remained well below earlier peaks.

French television showed a handful of protesters throwing objects at police vans in Drancy, a suburban town near northern Paris, while police also used tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators in the southern city of Montpellier.

The city of Dijon, in central France, also witnessed violent clashes. The local police force said some shops in the town centre had their windows broken, and added that a riot police officer there was also injured by a slab of paving stone.

The French government said 10,300 people demonstrated across the country, up from 9,500 last weekend.

Nevertheless, those numbers were well below the peaks seen in November and December, when an estimated 300,000 took to the streets on Saturdays in protests that often resulted in widespread violence and vandalism in Paris.

The “yellow vests” protests, named after the bright jackets French drivers have to keep in their cars and which have been worn by demonstrators, began in November after public anger against fuel tax rises.

Those were subsequently scrapped but the movement has since morphed into a broader anti-government protest.

The number of protesters has gradually fallen as a result of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron to quell the public anger, such as tax cuts to boost consumers’ spending power.

However, some demonstrators on Saturday said they would continue to protest over Macron’s policies.

“What he’s re-offered, it just allows people to maybe reach a level that they had before, that was maybe not enough,” said Sebastian Avril, a 42-year old postal services worker in Paris.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michaela Cabrera and Elizabeth Pineau; Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian

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