Police fired tear gas to disperse “yellow vest” demonstrators who converged on central Paris Saturday for the fifth straight weekend to protest the high cost of living and their belief President Emmanuel Macron is out of touch with working people.
Scuffles erupted between protestors and police, who fired tear gas on demonstrators as they scurried down side streets of Paris’ famed Champs-Elysees boulevard.
Sixty people had been arrested in the capital by late Saturday morning, fewer than the 500 that had been detained at the same time last weekend, the local government said.
Some 8,000 police and 14 armored vehicles were deployed to prevent a repeat of previous protests that turned violent, with protestors looting stores and setting up burning barricades in the streets.
The protests, triggered by fuel tax hikes, have morphed into a movement about France’s high living costs, and has ballooned into the biggest crisis of Macron’s presidency.
The weeks of protests have exposed intense resentment among non-city residents who feel that Macron, a former investment banker, is out of touch with struggling middle-class and blue-collar workers.
Macron has since abandoned the fuel tax hikes and hopes a package of tax and minimum wage measures will help ease tensions in the country after a month of violent clashes.
Protesters, however, have made new demands to address other economic issues hurting workers, retirees and students.
Government officials are concerned that repeated outbreaks of violence would weaken the economy and raise doubts about the government’s survival.
Officials are also concerned about far-right, anarchist and anti-capitalist groups like Black Bloc that have mimicked the “yellow vest” movement.
The “yellow vest” movement was named after the safety jackets French motorists are required to keep in their vehicles, which the protestors wear at demonstrations.