France’s Yellow Vest protests continued into their sixth week on Saturday – albeit in much smaller numbers. France’s Interior Ministry reported 23,800 protesters came out across the country as of 2 p.m. local time Saturday, vs. 66,000 last weekend, and 136,000 two weeks ago.
142 people were arrested in Paris by 7 p.m. – down from 170 the week before.
The Macron government has tried to contain the protests – offering economic concessions to try and curb anger over a fuel tax hike and other grievances which have brought protesters out en masse.
Saturday’s protests started off peaceful as the diminished number of demonstrators appeared to be less organized in previous weeks. “The mobilization is quieter, we’re in a holiday season,” Yellow Vest organizer Paul Marra said on national television.
Several hundred gathered near the Sacré Coeur Basilica in the Paris neighborhood of Montmartre, before making their way toward the Palais Garnier opera house. Most stores and restaurants remained open, and protesters intermingled with Christmas shoppers. –WSJ
Then things grew tense as violence broke out. At one point a group of Yellow Vests reported to be in the famous Champs Elysees were filmed throwing road cones at police as they drove away from the scene, while police deployed tear gas as clashes broke out.