Nearly 300 detained as Paris braces for ‘yellow vest’ protests

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PARIS: Paris police detained nearly 300 people Saturday ahead of fresh anti-?government “yellow vest” protests which authorities fear could turn violent for a third weekend in a ?row.? ? Clad in their luminous road safety jackets, dozens of demonstrators — who accuse President ?Emmanuel Macron of only looking out for the rich — gathered at dawn on the Champs-Elysees, the ?scene last Saturday of the worst rioting in Paris for decades.? ? “We had to come to Paris to be heard,” said protester Herve Benoit, arriving with three friends from ?the Dordogne in western France.? ? He called on the government to boost people’s spending power and increase taxes on the ?wealthiest. ? ? By 8.40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people.? ? Some 8,000 police were deployed, carrying out checks on people arriving at train stations and at ?protest hotspots such as the Champs-Elysees and Bastille monument.?
? A source close to the operation that at least 34 people were arrested for carrying masks, ?hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police.? ? Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed as much of the city-centre ?went on effective lockdown. Top-flight football matches and concerts were cancelled.? ? Last weekend’s violence, which saw some 200 cars torched and the Arc de Triomphe vandalised, ?shook France and plunged Macron’s government into its deepest crisis so far.? ? Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he expected “only a few thousand people” to descend on ?Paris after the 8,000 protesters counted last weekend, “but among them are ultraviolent individuals”.? ? “These past three weeks have produced a monster that its creators no longer control,” Castaner said, ?vowing “zero tolerance” towards those aiming to wreak further destruction.? ? Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday evening met a delegation of self-described “moderate” ?yellow vests who have urged people not to join the protests.?? After the meeting a spokesman from the movement, Christophe Chalencon, said Philippe had ??”listened to us and promised to take our demands to the president”.? ? “Now we await Mr Macron. I hope he will speak to the people of France as a father, with love and ?respect and that he will take strong decisions,” he said.? ? Philippe said some 89,000 police were being mobilised nationwide, with a dozen armoured vehicles ?deployed in Paris for the first time in decades.?

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