Thousands of “gilets jaunes” – yellow vests in French – took to the streets on Saturday, leaving Paris’s famed Champs Elysees and surrounding streets it in utter chaos.
After a call on social networks, French citizens from all over the country gathered in the French capital after government officials refused to meet them.
“We do not want this, but we will keep fighting for our rights until someone from the government will meet us,” said Antoine, a retired man from the western region of Bretagne (Brittany). “I hate violence, but this is the only way that we have to be heard, as French citizens we have that right,” he adds.
The yellow vest protest movement, named after the high-visibility jackets now required to be carried in any vehicle, began on November 17, 2018, in response to rising fuel prices and taxes.
Not organised by any labour unions affiliated to any political parties, about 244,000 people began by blocking roads and causing a degree of chaos in numerous cities throughout France, albeit in dwindling numbers in the following days; however, on Saturday, about 81,000 people are reported to have mobilised throughout the country, including 8,000 in Paris.
The French Ministry of the Interior has reported that at least eight people, including two police officers, have been injured in today’s violence.
Several barricades were set on fire while police forces continuously charged and shot tear gas at protesters.
Although a few confused tourists took this opportunity to take a different type of “selfie” during their holidays in Paris, others ran, frightened by the situation.
“I came here to shop and to visit the Champs Elysees, I did not know this would happen. It is quite scary and it ruined our holidays,” a US tourist, who prefered to remain anonymous, said.