At least 100 people have been arrested and 80 injured as French police clashed with fuel tax protesters Saturday in Paris.
Thousands of people gathered at the Champs-Élysées in the third weekend of protests against the government over rising fuel prices and taxes. At Paris’ famous monument on the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, riot police fired tear gas and a water cannon to displace the crowd.
Some protesters had lit fires, thrown rocks and sprayed police officers with yellow paint earlier Saturday morning in an effort to breach the barricades blocking a route to the Elysee Palace, President Emmanuel Macron‘s official residence.
By early evening, 183 people had been arrested, and some 80 people had been injured in the protests, including 14 police officers. French interior ministry blamed extremists for violence at the famous monument, pointing out that around 5,000 peaceful demonstrators, some holding roses, had marched near the Champs-Élysées.
Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe made the distinction between peaceful demonstrators and the ones breaking the law.
“We are attached to freedom of expression, but also to respect for the law. I am shocked by the violence of such a symbol of France,” he said, referring to the clashes around the Arc de Triomphe and graffiti sprayed on it that read “Yellow Jackets Will Triumph.” Since the protests began on Nov. 17, hundreds of people have been injured and two people have been killed in car crashes.