France has been roiled by its tenth consecutive weekend of increasingly violent confrontations between police and ‘yellow vest’ protesters amid the ongoing wave of turmoil rocking cities across the increasingly divided nation.
Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse all witnessed clashes with police, with security forces responding to projectiles with tear gas and water canons.
The latest round of protests had attracted around 27,000 people across the country by early Saturday afternoon, 7000 of them in the capital Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.
Last Saturday, 84,000 people took part over the course of the whole day across France, an increase of more than 30,000 compared to the previous weekend.
The official response has grown in step with the protests, with this weekend’s rallies drawing the biggest turnout so far of of police and security forces, that massive effort to suppress the rallies reflecting official fears recent incidents would draw even more yellow vests.
Authorities said 80,000 members of the security forces were deployed nationwide, 5000 of them in Paris.
Police shot and wounded at least three people over the week just ended, including a fireman who remains in an induced coma after being hit in the head.
#fireman is in a coma after he was shot in the back of the head ‘like a rabbit’ by #PoliceBrutality during demonstrations in #France.#YellowVests #GiletsJaunes https://t.co/UPN5hChA5Z— LaHaineTheMachine (@HateTheMachine) January 17, 2019
An elderly woman also suffered a head wound and a journalist was injured when struck in the leg by a “flash bang” grenade that witnesses said was fired at point-blank range.
In Paris on Saturday, the chant rising from the crowd assembled at Les Invalides square, near the Eiffel Tower, testified to the yellow vests’ defiance.
“We are not tired yet,” was the cry as the throng grew and in preparation for a planned march through the capital, where chic stores now routinely board up their windows on Friday nights in preparation for yet more weekends of fires, barricades and violence.
#GiletsJaunes under a cloud of tear gas in #Angers for #ActeX#Yellowvestspic.twitter.com/NFEtPfeJrA— nonouzi (@Gerrrty) January 19, 2019
The protest movement grew out of opposition to fuel taxes which the government of President Emmanuel Macron said were needed to combat climate change.
Those taxes have since been suspended, but by then the movement had become a magnet attracting and uniting a variety of groups and factions spanning the political spectrum.
Right-wing elements have used the protests to demand restrictions on immigration, which they blame for crime and terror attacks.
Meanwhile those on the left are demanding higher wages and relief from the cost of living.
A package of social welfare measures introduced in mid-December has failed to placate his critics.