PARIS (Reuters) – French police fired tear gas to push back protesters who tried to march towards the European Parliament building in the eastern city of Strasbourg on the 24th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s policies.
A protester reacts to tear gas canisters fired by police at a demonstration during the Act XXIV (the 24th consecutive national protest on Saturday) of the yellow vests movement in Strasbourg, France, April 27, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
The so-called “yellow vests” protesters were back on the streets across France two days after Macron outlined policy proposals including tax cuts worth around 5 billion euros ($5.58 billion) in response to the protests.
The protests, named after motorists’ high-visibility jackets, began in November over fuel tax increases but has morphed into a sometimes violent revolt against politicians and a government they see as out of touch.
Many in the grassroots movement, which lacks a leadership structure, have said Macron’s proposals did not go far enough and most of what he announced lacked details.
Around 2,000 protesters gathered near the seat of European Union institutions in Strasbourg, where organizers had planned make to the protest international by symbolically marching to the parliament building, a month ahead of EU-wide parliamentary elections.
Previous yellow vests protests in Strasbourg have mostly been peaceful.
Fearing violence and destruction of public buildings that have sometimes marred the demonstrations, authorities had banned protests and barricaded the neighborhood where the parliament and other EU institutions are located.
A Reuters witness said police fired several canisters of tear gas to push back the demonstrators.
French television showed some hooded protesters throwing back stones and other objects at the police.
In the capital Paris, which has witnessed some of the worst violence in past protests, Saturday’s demonstration, jointly organized with hard-left trade union confederation CGT, was mostly calm. Protesters also gathered in Lyon and Bordeaux.
French interior ministry said around 5,500 protesters were taking part in yellow vests marches across France by 1200 GMT, compared with 9,600 a week earlier.
The number of protesters have dwindled from highs of over 300,000 nationwide in November to around 30,000 over the past weeks, according to government estimates.
($1 = 0.8969 euros)
(This story corrects to 24th consecutive weekend in first paragraph, not 25th)
Reporting by Gilbert Reilhac in Strasbourg, Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Claude Canellas in Bordeaux, Simon Carraud and Bate Felix in Paris; Editing by Clelia Oziel