France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

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French riot police officers face protesters during a yellow vest demonstration marking it's first anniversary, in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Tear gas and water cannon were used Saturday as Paris police sought to disperse yellow vest protesters marking the first anniversary of the birth of their movement against government policies seen as favoring the rich. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS – Yellow vest activists staged peaceful demonstrations across France on Sunday, a day after scuffles between Paris police and protesters marred the anniversary of their movement for economic justice.

Local yellow vest groups gathered at traffic circles across France where the movement emerged one year ago.

In Paris, dozens of protesters briefly rallied under the dome of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette store to denounce consumer culture. They were later expelled by security guards and police.

A few hundred others staged a demonstration near Les Halles shopping mall, in the center of the capital.

Paris police said at least 31 people were detained on Sunday, in addition to 173 others the day before.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner deplored Saturday’s violence on CNews television. Most incidents happened on Place d’Italie, in the southeast of the capital, where police used tear gas and water cannons to push back protesters who were smashing windows and setting fires to vehicles and trash cans.

Authorities said about 28,000 people took part in rallies across France on Saturday, including 4,700 in Paris. Yellow vest activists said there were 44,000.

On Nov. 17, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people occupied roads and tollbooths, blocking traffic around the country to protest a fuel tax hike. The sometimes-violent protests have increasingly vented anger at the broader economic policies pursued by centrist President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen as favoring the rich.