Paris fuel protests: Dozens arrested as 'yellow vest' demonstrations turn violent

Ambulance workers hold flares outside the National Assembly in Paris Monday Dec. 3 2018. Ambulance workers took to the streets and gathered close to the National Assembly in downtown Paris to complain about changes to working conditions as French Prime

133 people are reported to have been injured, including 23 members of the security forces.

PARIS-President Emmanuel Macron considered declaring a state of emergency as he met security chiefs on December 2, seeking a way out of nationwide protests after rioters turned central Paris into a battle zone and vandalized the Arc de Triomphe monument.

Referring to the possibility of imposing a state of emergency - a demand made by the police union Alliance - Castaner declared: "Nothing is taboo for me". "No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc du Triomphe is defiled". He refused to answer questions on the matter.

Authorities said violent groups from the far right and far left as well as "thugs" from the suburbs had infiltrated the yellow vests movement in Paris on Saturday, although Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said most of those arrested were regular protesters who had been egged on by fringe groups.

The clashes in Paris on Saturday were a stark contrast to protests in other French regions recently, where demonstrations and road blockades were largely peaceful.

"I'm retired and [French President Emmanuel] Macron's fuel price increases are eating away at my purchasing power", said a 68-year-old Yellow Vest protester and former factory worker.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has been asked to meet protest organisers and party leaders as part of a "constant wish for dialogue", the Elysee Palace said.

Macron faces a dilemma in how to respond to the "yellow vests", not least because they are a grassroots movement with no formal leaders and a wide range of demands.

By the afternoon, clashed continued down several streets popular with tourists.

Water cannon, tear gas and baton charges were used by the Arc de Triomphe to hold a mob of around 1,500 demonstrators back.

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On Saturday (Dec 1), some targeted the Arc de Triomphe, chanting " Macron Resign" and scrawling on the facade of the towering 19th-century arch: "The yellow vests will triumph".

A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket waves a French flag at the Arc de Triomphe.

Protesters then led police on cat-and-mouse chases through other parts of the capital, setting cars and construction equipment alight and smashing windows.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted her "indignation" and "deep sadness" at the destruction and clashes with police, saying that violence is "not acceptable".

Demonstrators claim that they've finally had their fill of Macron's overbearing nanny state, and that a recently introduced package of taxes and regulations meant to curb fossil fuel consumption by dramatically increasing the price of gasoline were the last straw in their dissatisfaction with Macron's government. The demonstrations have become known as the "yellow jacket" protests. A website for the monument stated Sunday that it is "closed until further notice".

Several thousand riot police were overwhelmed on Saturday as they fought running battles with protesters in the shadows of some of Paris' fabled landmarks and through its fanciest shopping districts.

He said: "There is a strategy being managed by professional rioters, who are seeking to smash things".

"Access to the Champs-Elysees was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections".

According to The New York Times demonstrators say the French government "talks about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month". People work and pay a lot of taxes and we are fed up, ' said Rabah Mendez, a protester who came to march peacefully in Paris.

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