Violence erupted in Paris and other major French cities today as anti-government protesters took to the streets and called for President Emmanuel Macron to resign for the sixth Saturday in a row.
Tear gas, water canon and baton charges were used by riot police on a so-called ‘Act VI’ Day of Rage organised by the Yellow Vest movement.
142 people were arrested in Paris alone by 7pm, including Eric Drouet, one of the group’s leaders.
"He is accused of organising an illegal demonstration on a public road, carrying an offensive weapon, and taking part in group violence," said a Paris prosecuting source.
"Many others are under investigation for similar public order offences."
Some of the worst trouble was on the Champs Elysee, where thousands of Christmas shoppers were caught up in the fighting, as stores, restaurants and cafes were forced to shut early.
There were similar scenes in cities such as Bordeaux, Toulouse and Marseille, where rioters also took to the streets.
It came as a tenth member of the Yellow Vests movement died during blockades organised at major roads around France.
The 36-year-old man, who has not been identified publicly, died after being hit by a lorry at a roundabout in Perpignan, in the south of the country.
"The victim was with a group of demonstrators when the accident happened just before midnight on Friday," said a local police spokesman.
An enquiry has been launched.
The Vests have been protesting since November 17 and, despite a range of concessions by President Macron including scrapping green taxes of diesel and petrol, continue to call for him to step down.
‘Macron Resign’, a crowd shouted today as they gathered at Montmartre, the tourist district overlooking Paris first thing on Saturday morning.
There had been claims that they would gather at the ancient palace of Versailles, to the west of the capital, but this turned out to be a diversion.
Jean Caron, a 52-year-old from Brittany, said: "Our protests have been hugely successful in Paris itself, and that’s why we’re back here.
"What everybody now realises is that the government cannot control us, and that’s why we will continue until Macron resigns."
Last Saturday there were almost 170 arrests for public order offences across the city, while last month some 700 were held in custody on a single day.
High-end shops including luxury fashion boutiques were boarded up in Paris, along with banks and post offices.
Mounted police, water cannons, and 14 armoured vehicles capable of spreading high-intensity gas were all on standby as part of the security operation.
They have failed to prevent widespread disorder over the past few weekends, with the worst violence normally coming at nightfall.
The Vests have been joined by extremists from the far right and the ultra-left, as well as anarchists intent on causing as much damage as possible.
Crisis-ridden Mr Macron has not only climbed down on imposing green surcharges, but increased the national minimum wage by seven per sent, and scrapped tax on bonuses.
But the Yellow Vests said their protests would continue indefinitely as they campaign for even more concessions.
The independent Mr Macron, leader of the Republic On The Move party, won the French presidential election in a landslide in 2017, but he is now dubbed the ‘President of the Rich’ with polls showing his popularity rating down to just 18 per cent.
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