PARIS (AP) — French yellow vest protesters set fires alongside a march route by Paris on Saturday to drive house their message to a authorities they see as out of contact with the issues of the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the one downside France wants to unravel.
Just like the high-visibility vests the protesters put on, the scattered small fires in Paris gave the impression to be a collective plea to the federal government to “have a look at me — I need assistance too!”
Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gasoline to attempt to management radical components on the margins of the largely peaceable march, considered one of a number of actions round Paris and different French cities.
The protesters had been marking the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions towards financial inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s authorities, which they see as favoring the rich and large enterprise on the expense of strange staff. Protesters see themselves as standing up for beleaguered French staff, college students and retirees who’ve been battered by excessive unemployment, excessive taxes and shrinking buying energy.
Related Press reporters noticed a automotive, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze across the Place de la Republique plaza in jap Paris. The odor of tear gasoline fired by police combined with the smoke, choking the air.
Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to forestall the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — rapidly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest.
One masked protester wearing black jumped on a Mercedes parked alongside the march route, smashing its back and front windshields.
Paris police headquarters stated authorities detained 137 folks by early afternoon and carried out spot checks on greater than 14,000 folks attempting to enter the capital for Saturday’s protests.
The tensions centered on a march of a number of thousand people who began on the Finance Ministry in jap Paris to demand decrease taxes on staff and retirees and better taxes on the wealthy.
One other group of about 200 folks tried to march to the president’s Elysee Palace in central Paris, however riot police blocked them on the neo-classical Madeleine Church.
One more group tried to exhibit yellow vest mourning over the Notre Dame blaze whereas additionally maintaining the stress on Macron. They wished to march to Notre Dame itself, however had been banned by police, who arrange a big safety perimeter across the space.
One protester carried an enormous wood cross resembling these carried in Good Friday processions as he walked on a close-by Paris embankment.
Many protesters had been deeply saddened by the hearth at a nationwide monument. However on the identical time they’re offended on the $1 billion in donations for Notre Dame renovations that poured in from French tycoons whereas their very own financial calls for stay largely unmet and so they wrestle to make ends meet.
“I believe what occurred at Notre Dame is a good tragedy however people must be extra necessary than stones. And if people had slightly bit extra money, they too may assist finance the reconstruction work at Notre Dame. I discover this disgusting,” stated protester Jose Fraile.
Some 60,000 cops had been mobilized for Saturday’s protests throughout France. The motion is basically peaceable however extremists have attacked treasured monuments, retailers and banks and clashed with police.
The heavy police presence meant subway stations and roads round Paris had been closed Saturday, thwarting vacationers attempting to benefit from the French capital on a heat spring day.
“Paris may be very troublesome proper now,” stated Paul Harlow, of Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, as he seemed sadly on the broken Notre Dame.
He and his spouse Susan had been in Paris just for a number of days and didn’t make it in time to see the cathedral. On Saturday, their efforts to go to museums had been derailed by closed subways and barricaded roads.
“I don’t suppose we’ll be again,” he stated.
Different guests confirmed solidarity with the yellow vest trigger.
“I’m not considering becoming a member of them, however I can perceive what they’re offended about,” stated Antonio Costes, a retiree from the Paris suburb of Montreuil who got here Saturday to see the injury to Notre Dame. “There’s a variety of injustice.”
Macron had been scheduled to put out his responses to yellow vest considerations on Monday evening — however canceled the speech as a result of the Notre Dame hearth broke out. He’s now anticipated to take action subsequent Thursday.
Some yellow vest critics accuse Macron of attempting to take advantage of the hearth for political acquire. One protester carried an indication focusing on Macron that learn: “Pyromaniac – we’re going to carbonize you.”
One other enormous signal learn: “Victor Hugo thanks all of the beneficiant donors prepared to avoid wasting Notre Dame and proposes that they do the identical factor with Les Miserables,” referring to the famed writer’s novels concerning the cathedral and the struggles of France’s poor.
Some distinguished yellow vest figures who had stopped protesting stated they had been returning to the streets Saturday out of an excellent larger sense of being missed for the reason that Notre Dame tragedy.
Anti-rich messages have flourished on social media in latest days as yellow vest protesters exhorted rich donors to be extra beneficiant with France’s working class.
Chris den Hond, Francisco Seco and Deborah Gouffran in Paris contributed to this report.
Learn and watch all AP protection of the Notre Dame hearth at https://apnews.com/NotreDameCathedral