French protesters riot in Paris, accuse Macron of “hot air”

AP NEWS | 3/16/2019 | Staff
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PARIS (AP) — French yellow vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores in Paris and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a building blaze.

Cobblestones flew in the air and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees. By dusk, as the demonstrators had dispersed, the famed avenue was a blackened expanse.

Violence - Moment - Movement - Weeks - End

The resurgent violence comes at a watershed moment for a movement, which had been fizzling in recent weeks, and at the end of a two-month-long national debate called by Macron that protesters say failed to answer their demands for economic justice.

Police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of Saturday’s unrest. French riot police tried to contain the demonstrators with repeated volleys of tear gas and water cannon, with limited success.

Arson - Fire - Bank - Champs-Elysees - Ground

One arson fire targeted a bank near the Champs-Elysees on the ground floor of a seven-story residential building. A mother and her child had to be rescued just as the fire threatened to engulf their floor, Paris’ fire service told The Associated Press. Eleven people in the building, including two firefighters, sustained light injuries.

A 43-year-old German factory worker who identified himself only as Peter had traveled to Paris to show solidarity with yellow vest protesters. Standing Saturday outside the burned-out bank, he said he agreed with the destruction, calling banks “the biggest problem in the world.”

Organizers - Splash - Saturday - Anniversary - Vest

Protest organizers had hoped to make a splash Saturday, which marks the 4-month anniversary of the yellow vest movement, which started Nov. 17, and the end of the “Great Debate” that...
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