Fri | Apr 26, 2019

Paris cleans up after latest riot

Published:Monday | December 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Riot police officer stand in front a burning trash bin during clashes last Saturday in Marseille, southern France. French riot police fired tear gas and water cannons in Paris on Saturday, trying to stop thousands of yellow-vested protesters from converging on the presidential palace to express their anger at high taxes and French President Emmanuel Macron.

PARIS (AP):

Paris tourist sites reopened, workers cleaned up broken glass, and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday, a day after running battles between 'yellow-vest' protesters and police that left at least 71 injured in the French capital and caused widespread damage in cities around France.

The man at the focus of protesters' anger, President Emmanuel Macron, broke his silence to tweet his appreciation for the police overnight. However, pressure mounted on him to propose new solutions to calm the anger dividing France.

Macron will address the nation "at the very beginning of the week", government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, without specifying a day.

The economy minister lamented the damage to the economy.

"This is a catastrophe for commerce, it's a catastrophe for our economy," Bruno Le Maire said Sunday while visiting merchants around the Saint Lazare train station, among areas hit by vandalism as the pre-Christmas shopping season got under way.

After the fourth Saturday of nationwide protests by a grass-roots movement with broadening demands, officials said they understood the depth of the crisis. Le Maire said it was a social and democratic crisis, as well as a "crisis of the nation" with "territorial fractures".

Griveaux, the government spokesman, speaking on the LCI TV station, said he was "sure [Macron] will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts".

The president must also speak to their pocketbooks. Among myriad demands voiced by protesters, measures to increase buying power were a bottom line.

TARNISHED IMAGE

The number of injured in Paris and nationwide was down Saturday from protest riots a week ago, and most of the capital remained untouched. Still, TV footage broadcast around the world of the violence in Paris neighbourhoods popular with tourists has tarnished the country's image.

A number of tourists at the Eiffel Tower, which reopened Sunday after closing Saturday, said they were avoiding the Champs-Elysees, Paris' main avenue that is lined with shops and cafÈs and is normally a magnet for foreign visitors.

"Yes, we're very concerned with security ... but we couldn't cancel the trip," Portuguese tourist Elizabet Monteero said. But, she added, "We don't go to dangerous zones like the Champs-Elysees."

France deployed some 89,000 police but still failed to deter the determined protesters. Some 125,000 yellow vests took to the streets Saturday around France with a bevy of demands related to high living costs and a sense that Macron favours the elite and is trying to modernise the French economy too fast.

Most of the yellow-vest demonstrators in Paris appeared to be working-class men from elsewhere in France, angry at economic inequalities and stagnation.