Clashes in Paris at 'yellow vest' protest

Clashes in Paris at 'yellow vest' protest

He was arrested during Saturday's protest for possession of a Category D weapon, believed to be a kind of baton, and "participating in a group with intent to commit vandalism and violence".

The "Yellow Vest" movement, a nation-wide protest against weak economic performance and stagnant income increase under President Emmanuel Macron, started as a campaign against surge in fuel prices this year.

Nantes was another town where the Yellow Vests made a strong showing, blocking the centre until being cleared by the police, whose methods are increasingly coming under the spotlight.

More than 38,000 demonstrators were protesting at 18:00 throughout the country compared with 66,000 last Saturday, the interior ministry said.

'We talk a lot.

"It needs harmony, unity, honest commitment to strong collective causes and we must heal the divisions", said the 41-year-old centrist, who has struggled to tamp down the anger of the working poor in small-town and rural France over falling spending power and policies seen as tilted towards the rich.

Saturday's numbers were a sharp drop from last week, when Macron, a pro-business centrist, gave in to some of the movement's demands.

The protesters have left the main avenue.

On Thursday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called on protesters to stay at home on what is normally a busy shopping weekend ahead of Christmas.

Since he caved in to protesters in a TV address on Dec 10, Macron, who turned 41 on Friday, has largely kept out of the public eye, staying inside the Elysee palace for what his press team called internal meetings.

"We are ready in case the protest focuses on Versailles, but it could also be elsewhere", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner was quoted as saying by the local media.

Near the border between France and Spain hundreds of protesters disrupted traffic as they gathered around an auto route toll booth. At one point, police used tear gas to disperse protesters and get traffic moving again.

The separatists often block highways to protest against Madrid's rejection of Catalonia's independence referendum in October 2017.

"I think it's going to happen", the 48-year-old said.

Two journalists covering the Boulou rally for France 2 television said they were "violently" attacked by the protesters. And he said while the yellow vest protests seem to be abating, police are seeing a "growing intensity of violence against security forces".

Blockades were also reported in northern France near the border with Belgium.

TOULOUSE, France Dec 22 - A driver died in southern France on Friday when their vehicle hit a truck at a roundabout that was blocked by "Yellow Vest" protesters, French local authorities said.

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