Violent Paris Protests Reach A Climax On Saturday With 1,300 Arrested And Dozens Injured

Yellow Vest Protests
Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

With “yellow vest” protests spreading across France over the past month, yesterday saw the most violent day of protests yet, as French officials say that dozens were injured and hundreds were arrested while property damages and upheaval threaten an “economic catastrophe.”

About 125,000 protesters took to the streets of cities all over France on Saturday. Thousands of riot police were deployed by Emmanuel Macron’s government to control the rioters, and the violence escalated until they eventually were forced to repel demonstrators with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons, according to Business Insider.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the riots a “crisis” and said they were devastating to the French economy.

“It’s a catastrophe for business, it’s a catastrophe for our economy,” he said.

While France raged with unrest, President Trump took to Twitter to erroneously suggest the riots were caused by the Paris Climate Accord.

It was the second time that President Trump perpetuated a false claim that Paris rioters “Want Trump,” according to France24, after having retweeted the claim on Tuesday:

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian responded angrily to President Trump’s insinuations.

“I say this to Donald Trump and the French president says it too: leave our nation be,” Le Drian told the BBC.

The “yellow vest” riots began weeks ago as demonstrators congregated to protest a planned fuel tax increase. Under pressure, Macron capitulated and rescinded the proposed fuel tax last Wednesday, but the protests continued against Macron’s presidency, growing economic inequality, and France’s declining standard of living.

Macron, the millionaire investment banker elected to the French presidency in 2017, is the primary target of the protests. Macron slashed France’s wealth tax, then imposed a range of taxes on the French middle class that financially squeezed them into desperation, according to the CBC. His critics see him as being more concerned with Europe’s elite rather than France’s poor and believe that demonstrating is the only way to get the government to listen.

“We’re not lazy; we do want to get to work, but we have to be able to feed our families,” said Jordan Fournier, a 26-year-old father of two.

“We’re getting robbed,” fellow protestor Damien Lefebvre said. “We can barely manage to have self-respect.”

Macron, who has kept a low profile during the unrest, will finally address the nation on Monday night after meeting with trade union and business leaders in the morning.

“He should come down off his pedestal and talk to us,” one of the protestors said.