The defiant Yellow Vests, though in dwindling numbers, have marched across France for the 26th straight weekend. In Nantes and Lyon the rallies ended up in clashes between the demonstrators and police.
A week after the lowest turnout since the movement began as a protest against a planned fuel tax hike in November, the Yellow Vests, who are now protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s broader reform agenda and supposed indifference towards the fate of the ordinary French people, once again took to the streets of the French cities.
Nantes and Lyon saw some major demonstrations on Saturday, as thousands of people joined the rallies organized by the protest movement in both cities.
In Lyon, 2,500 people hit the streets while in Nantes the police put the turnout at 2,200, according to the French media.
While the processions were largely peaceful, some clashes between the protesters and the police did erupt as some black-hooded demonstrators hurled bottles at the officers and smashed shop windows in Nantes. Police responded with tear gas and also used water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The angry demonstrators were particularly dissatisfied with the concessions the French government made under pressure from the protest movement following the so-called national debate launched by Macron.
“The ‘grand debate’ was a smokescreen. Today they’re smoking us out with tear gas,” a 43-year-old protester, who identified himself as Mickael, told Reuters. “But we won’t cave in. Yes, we’re fewer than at the start, but when the others come back, we’ll still be here and we’ll still be angry.”
In Lyon, the atmosphere at the rallies was tense as well. At some point, the protesters started pelting the officers with bottles, stones, and firecrackers. The police retaliated with the massive use of tear gas.
The situation spiraled into clashes between the Yellow Vests and the police, which left one officer and one protester injured.
In Paris, which has seen some of the worst street violence in its modern history during the Yellow Vest protests, the situation remained largely peaceful this time.
Hundreds of people marched in the rain through the streets of the French capital starting from the Jussieu University in solidarity with the teachers,