'Yellow vest' movement sparks clashes in the Netherlands

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
Published 30.12.2018 22:24
Updated 31.12.2018 08:00

Dutch police on horseback broke up a "yellow vest" protest in The Hague over the weekend and arrested eight people after the demonstration turned violent, police said.

Protesters threw fireworks, stones and patio furniture at police officers, said a statement by police in the city that hosts the seat of the Netherlands government. It is the first time that demonstrations by supporters of the French-spawned movement have sparked clashes in the Netherlands.

Around 150 to 200 people had gathered for an "unannounced" demonstration for which organizers did not give authorities any notification, the police statement said.

Mounted police were sent in to break up the demonstration and officers could be seen wielding batons to ward off protesters according to TV footage shown by the NOS broadcaster.

"Eight people have been arrested for various misbehavior such as launching fireworks, throwing stones and patio furniture at the police and disrupting public order," the police statement said. "No one was injured."

Meanwhile, in France, yellow vest protesters marched on the headquarters of leading French broadcasters Saturday, as small groups turned out in Paris and around France despite waning momentum for their movement. Hundreds of demonstrators – some chanting "Journalists, Collaborationists!" – gathered at the central offices of television network BFM and state-run France Televisions. Some protesters hurled stones and other objects during scattered skirmishes with riot police firing teargas.

Some members of the broad-based yellow vest movement accuse French leading news media of favoring President Emmanuel Macron's government and big business and minimizing the protests – even though the demonstrations have been the leading news story in France since they kicked off Nov. 17.

Dozens of protesters twice tried to march on the elegant, tourist-filled Champs Élysées, the site of repeated clashes between police and demonstrators in recent weeks. Blue police car lights flashed along the avenue glittering with red holiday decorations. Another small group of yellow vest demonstrators gathered near the Eiffel Tower, where police officers arrested several. But by nightfall, tourists and couples were back at adjacent Trocadero plaza to enjoy spectacular views of the tower. Both police and protesters appeared to be out in much smaller numbers than previous weekends.

The holiday season and winter chill may have put a damper on Saturday's turnout, along with a raft of concessions by Macron to calm the movement after rioting nearly reached his presidential palace earlier this month. Despite Macron's offers of tax relief and other aid, many people remain frustrated with his pro-business leadership and are continuing to stage roadblocks at roundabouts around the country.

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