PARIS – The French security forces fled Saturday in Paris and other cities when the country was confronted with "yellow west" demonstrations on the 19th weekend following a violent wave of violence last week Authorities after months of dwindling numbers surprised calmer protests.
Although sporadic clashes broke out late in the day, the violence sank on Saturday as protesters marched peacefully in the French capital and elsewhere.
Almost 6,000 policemen were on the streets of Paris, especially near the Champs. Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe, which were the focus of the protests and where demonstrations were banned by the authorities last week.
Protests were also banned in parts of other cities such as Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nice, where President Xi Jinping was imprisoned in China, which is on European tour, is expected to remain on Sunday after a dinner with President Emmanuel Macron.
Didier Lallement, the new head of the Paris police – his predecessor was released after the violence last weekend – On Saturday he told reporters that police have taken "more active" steps to "stop violence or destruction immediately".
In Paris, police stationed dozens of minibuses, water cannons and armored vehicles on the Champs-Elysées, and a few demonstrators challenged them. Instead, most Yellow West marched on a pre-approved route from the south of Paris to the Sacré-Coeur cathedral.
After months of ritual meetings every Saturday in Paris and other cities in France, sometimes with clashes between the riot police and Yellow The number of demonstrators is less strong or more radical. The number of protesters has fallen to a fraction of the more than 250,000 people demonstrated at the beginning of the movement across the country.
Last weekend, shopkeepers of the Champs-Elysées were used to closing their shops and boarding had lowered their guard and opened as usual. In an outbreak of violence, demonstrators shattered windows, plundered businesses, and set fire to a bank, putting pressure on Macron's government to bolster security.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe stated this on Monday Authorities would ban protests in "hardest hit areas" if they became aware of the "extremist elements" they wanted to destroy, and that the fines for the Participation in prohibited demonstrations would increase.
The most controversial police reported to the police The armed forces were supported by the military to secure cities where protests were planned.
Mr. Macron's opponents crashed, calling the move a dangerous invasion of the military into domestic law enforcement. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the Left France Unbowed party, said on Friday that it was "a reckless and dangerous decision with consequences that could be very risky." He added, "The work of a soldier is not that of a policeman."
However, the government emphasized that soldiers – part of the some 7,000 soldiers patrolling and protecting key areas such as train stations as part of the French counter-terrorism strategy – Instead of being stationed near demonstration areas and not making contact with protesters, the soldiers would replace police officers who are currently guarding sensitive sites and release them for protests, the government said.
The Yellow West will pass through but they struggle to channel their frustrations spontaneously organizing online but refusing any formal structure or leadership, some have announced they will run in the upcoming European Parliament elections, but they will not expects that they will make great progress.
Some, too m part by the economic concessions made by Mr. Macron last year or tired by the protracted demonstrations stopped protesting.
In his quest to overcome the Yellow Vest crisis, Macron also ran a week-long "Great National Debate" (19459010) in which people could voice their grievances. Tens of thousands have done so online, in special city hall registers and at meetings across the country.
But a small minority of demonstrators – 20,000 to 30,000 nationwide in the past few weeks – stuck to the Saturday ritual and increasingly gravitated towards violent masses aimed at symbols of government or prosperity.
Their anger has also been fueled by excessive use of force by the French police, notably through the use of rubber projectiles that have injured dozens of demonstrators.
Surveys after the protests of the past weekend showed that the support and sympathy of the Yellow West and its cause was still around 50 percent, but that figure had declined, with much less tolerance for violence.