French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from Paris’s Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had reviewed the traditional Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.
It’s not just about the fuel tax; it’s about anger at ever-increasing burdens on the working class.
If the movement has managed to win such broad support thus far, it’s because it has clearly tapped into a deeper sense of social injustice. While that sentiment is shared nationwide to varying degrees, the protests themselves sprung up largely in rural areas and in what’s known as le périurbain: the sparsely populated outer bands of suburbs and metropolitan areas. These are parts of the country that suffer from high joblessness and rely heavily on state investment to keep their communities afloat, from unemployment benefits to the public rail network that connects them to larger cities.
Businesses, museums and other attractions in the French capital had shuttered on Saturday in anticipation of the violent new clashes during the critical Christmas shopping season.
French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 125,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets across the country, including 10,000 in Paris.
Paris and other French cities including Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse saw significant clashes between protesters and police.
About 120 protesters and 20 law enforcement officials were injured nationwide, the interior minister said.
Nearly 1,400 people were arrested.French PM Edouard Philippe called for dialogue and said President Emmanuel Macron would soon be proposing measures to “nourish” that dialogue and rebuild national unity.