Banks and upmarket shops were being destroyed by gangs of rioters in central Paris today as thousands rallied to mark the first anniversary of France‘s Yellow Vest movement.
Tear gas and baton charges were used by police in the Place d’Italie, where protesters were preparing to join a march.
Protesters break the windows of an HSBC bank near the Porte d’Italie in Paris today on the first anniversary of the yellow vest protests
Masked protesters overturn a car as they clash with riot police during the ‘Act 53’ demonstration, the 53rd consecutive week of unrest
People walk past a burning scooter during the violent protests today in the French capital in a bid to show the government they can still muster support
A picture taken near place d’Italie today shows a fallen glass recycling container rolling towards a car
The so-called Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) are named after their trademark high-visibility motoring jackets
They smashed windows of the British bank, broke open doors, and then lit fires while preventing emergency workers from getting to them.
A nearby shopping centre was also targeted, and cars were turned upside down.
‘Barricades have been set on fire and we have come under attack,’ said an officer at the scene, who confirmed that they were responding with tear gas.
‘The situation is extremely tense,’ the officer added, confirming that controversial flash ball guns had also been deployed.
There were 54 arrests by 1pm, with 1,600 ‘preventative searches’ carried out by police.
Protesters smashed windows of the British bank, broke open doors, and then lit fires while preventing emergency workers from getting to them
Tear gas and baton charges were used by police in the Place d’Italie, where protesters were preparing to join a march
Numbers attending the protests and levels of violence have sharply diminished in recent months but the scenes remain violent
There were 54 arrests by 1pm, with 1,600 ‘preventative searches’ carried out by police on the streets of Paris
Protesters wearing masks and hoodies turn over a red Citroen in the violent scenes of unrest today which have gripped France for a year
Some of those held were members of the Black Bloc anarchist movement, who had joined the protest.
Clashes broke out between demonstrators and police near the Porte de Champerret as protesters were preparing to march across town towards Gare d’Austerlitz.
Police also intervened to prevent a few hundred demonstrators from occupying the Paris ring road, according to Reuters TV footage.
The so-called Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) are named after their trademark high-visibility motoring jackets.
They are already one of the most effective protest groups in French history, having rallied tens of thousands across the country using social media.
Following their first mass demonstration against fuel prices in Paris a year ago, the government announced billions of pounds-worth of tax breaks.
But, despite the concessions by President Emmanuel Macron, the Yellow Vests said they wanted more.
Violent protests continued, causing millions of pounds worth of damage to high-profile tourists sites including the Arc de Triomphe itself.
Some of those held were members of the Black Bloc anarchist movement, who had joined the protest
Official figures show that 2,500 demonstrators have been wounded during the protests, which have continued each Saturday for a year
Police officers walk past Moulin Rouge cabaret as they secure a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the ‘yellow vests’ movement
The Champs Elysee was the scene of mass rioting, with café, restaurants, and designer shops smashed in and looted.
‘We want Macron out, and a change in the system of government,’ said Eleanor Bisset, a 19-year-old student who was marching today.
‘Direct democracy is our main aim – we want everybody to have a say in the decisions that our made on our behalf.’
Official figures show that 2,500 demonstrators have been wounded during the protests, which have continued each Saturday for a year.
A poll for Le Figaro this week found 69 per cent of the French believe the Yellow Vest movement is justified in its protest
A protester kicks a tear gas canister towards the spray of a water cannon today, a year on from when the violent protests started
Those wounded have included 24 protesters who have lost an eye, and five who have lost a hand because of police weapons.
Two police officers are set to stand trial over alleged violence against protesters, while up to 1800 police officers have suffered serious injuries.
After being caught out by the speed and effectiveness of last year’s protests, Mr Macron and his government are now trying to contain it.
A poll for Le Figaro this week found 69 per cent of the French believe the Yellow Vest movement is justified in its protest.
The independent Mr Macron came to power in 2017 pledging to reform France, and make it a fairer and more equal country, but the ex-mechant banker is still frequently referred to as the ‘President of the Rich’.
The yellow vest movement was one of the toughest challenges to Macron’s presidency before the protests dwindled in the early summer.
The movement evolved from nationwide road blockades into a series of often-violent demonstrations that pitted rowdy protesters with police and have ravaged Paris and other major cities in the country.
The yellow vest crisis forced Macron to make policy concessions and delay the next big wave of reforms, including overhauling the pension and unemployment systems.
Macron’s plans to simplify the unwieldy and expensive pension system, which he says will make it fairer, is particularly unpopular.
Trade unions have called on railway workers, Paris public transport staff, truck drivers and civil servants to strike against the pensions overhaul on December 5, and in some cases beyond.
Students and yellow vest protesters have called for people to join forces with the unions.
On Thursday Macron promised money for hospitals in a bid to quell unrest among medics.