8 Dec, 2018
French police fired the first batches of tear gas on Saturday as massive crowds of Yellow Vest protesters swarmed into the heart of the capital on the 4th weekend of unrest. Hundreds were detained prior to and at the rally.
The figure was announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. According to him, 481 people were detained by police and 211 remain in custody.
The rally on the iconic Champs-Elysees avenue turned violent right after 10:00 am (local time). Videos from the area show people coughing and sneezing after tear gas canisters were fired into the lines of demonstrators.
Beefing up its presence, law enforcement also deployed armored vehicles belonging to the French Gendarmerie – the military police. The hardware was stationed right next to the Paris landmark, which last week saw one of the fiercest battles between police and rioters.
This is the fourth consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vests protests, with levels of violence between police and demonstrators that has not been seen in decades. Last week, the unrest peaked again, resulting in over 400 arrests. Scores of people were also injured during the heavy-handed police response. Officers also suffered injuries while trying to handle the situation.
The French government says for now it has abandoned the plans for fuel price hikes and a higher tax, which triggered the rallies. The unrest, however, is still far from losing steam.