Restaurant ablaze on eighth weekend of 'yellow vest' protests in France

Leroy Wright
January 8, 2019

Protesters were looking to breathe new life into the yellow vest movement as numbers of participants has fallen since the first Saturday protest in mid-November.

Christophe Dettinger, 36, was caught on video using his fists and feet against officers on a bridge over the Seine during weekend anti-government protests.

Some 4,600 protesters hit the streets of the southwestern city of Bordeaux, with some hurling stones at police who answered with tear gas and water cannon.

He said that they will lead the movements into a unified political force. He won France's light heavyweight title in 2007 and held it for two years.

France's Interior Minister put Saturday's nationwide turnout at around 50,000.

The scale and intensity of the protests has shrivelled in recent weeks.

The movement, which became known as the "gilets jaunes" (yellow vests), broadened to include issues involving families' struggle to make ends meet, with calls for higher wages, lower taxes, better pensions and easier university entry requirements.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government is sticking to its growth forecast of 1.7 percent in 2019, even as he warned of risks from the worldwide environment and the Yellow Vests protests in France.

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On Friday, Griveaux had denounced those still protesting as "agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government".

Benjamin Griveaux, government spokesman, confirmed that he and his team had to evacuate his office in Paris after demonstrators broke into his courtyard by knocking down the door with construction machinery.

Women also marched in other cities around France.

Police said some 3,500 demonstrators turned up on the Champs-Elysees on Saturday morning.

Public anger appeared to have abated over the holiday period; however, the brief arrest on Wednesday of Eric Drouet, one of the leaders of the movement, seems to have rekindled resentment among his supporters. Macron later backed down and suspended the hike, but the protests did not stop and turned into a broader campaign against high costs of living blamed on Macron's economic policies.

Driven by anger over a perceived squeeze on household income, the movement has shaken Macron's presidency and hurt retailers and other businesses after the spontaneous protest against fuel taxes gave way to riots in early December.

That's a steep decline from the first demos, which saw tens of thousands of protesters throughout the country toward the end of a year ago.

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