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Yellow Vest protest turns violent in Paris

By Clyde Hughes
Yellow Vest protest turns violent in Paris
Protesters from the 'Gilets Jaunes' (Yellow Vests) movement walk down the Champs Elysees avenue near the Arc de Tiomphe during the 'Act XVII' demonstration in Paris, France, March 9. The protests turned violent with fires and vandalism on Saturday. Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE

March 16 (UPI) -- Violence erupted in Paris during renewed Yellow Vest protests Saturday, where demonstrators looted Champs-Elysees Avenue shops and damaged the famous Le Fouquet restaurant.

Some 1,500 of the estimated 8,000 protesters turned "ultraviolent," becoming involved in fights and property damage, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said. Reports said that demonstrators burned cars, started bonfires and threw cobblestones at police.

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After former French President Nicolas Sarkozy held a celebration party at Le Fouquet on the night of his election in 2007, the restaurant became a symbol of economic privilege, The New York Times wrote. On Saturday, video showing flames among the tables and curtains in the established circulated.

Protesters started a fire at a bank near Champs-Élysées and caused damage along the avenue's shops known for selling luxury goods.

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One key member of the Yellow Vest movement, Eric Drouet, said in an Internet video that he will no longer take part in the demonstration because the "marching wasn't functioning."

French legislators passed a law in an effort to cracked down on protesters by allowing administrative authorities to issue a ban on protests, bypassing courts. The Yellow Vest protest takes its name from the fluorescent road-safety garment that all French drivers are made to carry in their vehicles.

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The Yellow Vest protest, which started late last year, began with people from rural areas who protested fuel tax increases seen as a green tax supported by President Emmanuel Macron. The protests then morphed to represent a wide variety of complaints from the standard of living, shrinking social welfare benefits and other issues.

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The protests, though, had started to wane. Demonstrations in Paris and southern France during one February weekend were attended by about one-fifth the number of people who protested at the start the demonstrations in mid-November.

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