Masked demonstrators clash with riot police in Paris

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.04.2019 19:53
Updated 20.04.2019 19:58
Protesters stand next to a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vests (gilets jaunes) movement, on April 20, 2019 in Paris (AFP Photo)
Protesters stand next to a burning barricade during an anti-government demonstration called by the "Yellow Vests" (gilets jaunes) movement, on April 20, 2019 in Paris (AFP Photo)

Masked protesters and helmeted riot police have clashed repeatedly in Paris amid tensions on the edges of a yellow vest protest.

French police said they arrested more than 100 "yellow vest" demonstrators in Paris on Saturday as clashes broke out with protestors taking to the streets for the 23rd week of anti-government marches.

Tear gas hung in the air throughout the afternoon around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris.

Radical protesters hurled paving stones and flares, attacked at least one boarded-up store, and set fire to a few vehicles. Police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd.

Associated Press reporters saw at least two journalists injured in the melee.

Meanwhile, a separate, smaller crowd of yellow vests marched peacefully toward the cordoned-off neighborhood around the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral. Young women skipped down a street along the Seine River with drummers and singers.

They are urging the French government not to forget the troubles of the poor even as it gathers millions to rebuild the cathedral.

"We want to live with dignity," said retired fisherman Joel Blayon at a protest just north of Paris.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law legislation giving security forces greater powers at demonstrations but which opponents say violate civil liberties.

One measure banned protesters from covering their faces, but France's Constitutional Council, its highest constitutional authority, refused to give the green light to one of the most contentious parts of the legislation.

It would also have given the authorities the power to ban from demonstrations any individual "posing a particularly serious threat to public order".

The "yellow vest" movement is demanding changes to the government's social and fiscal policies.

Interior ministry figures put the number of demonstrators nationwide at 9,600 at 2 pm (1200 GMT), including 6,700 in the capital.

Protest organizers have repeatedly said the official figures are underestimated.

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