French yellow vest protesters seek momentum on 15th week

Published 02-23-2019

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PARIS (AP) - Yellow vest protesters took to the streets across France on Saturday for a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations, trying to re-energize supporters while tamping down on the violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks.

Hundreds gathered at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris for a march through well-off neighborhoods to protest government policies they see as favoring the rich. It was among many rallies and marches planned around Paris and in other cities.

Five separate demonstrations were organized in the French capital.

Support for the movement has ebbed in recent weeks as it has splintered and outbreaks of violence continue. Online announcements for Saturday's marches appealed for peaceful action, and one of the weekend protests aimed to stand up against anti-Semitism.

The extremist views of some protesters erupted in a torrent of anti-Semitic insults hurled at noted philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the sidelines of last weekend's Paris protest. The assault came days after the French government reported a huge rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year.

A few hundred yellow vest protesters made the most of the sunny weather to gather at the Chambord Castle in central France for a picnic while activists reportedly blocked access to an Amazon platform in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Local authorities in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand urged residents to avoid coming downtown, where 2,500 yellow vest protesters clashed with police forces. The prefecture said police arrested 15 people - including eight who were placed in custody - and seized weapons including baseball bats and alarm pistols.

The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.

The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader public rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, which protesters say favor businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers.

Macron has tried to assuage protesters' anger by making some concessions - like rolling back the fuel

Local authorities in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand urged residents to avoid coming downtown, where 2,500 yellow vest protesters clashed with police forces. The prefecture said police arrested 15 people - including eight who were placed in custody - and seized weapons including baseball bats and alarm pistols.

The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.

The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader public rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, which protesters say favor businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers.

Macron has tried to assuage protesters' anger by making some concessions - like rolling back the fuel tax hike - and holding forums where officials can better listen to public demands.

The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader public rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies, which protesters say favor businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers.

Macron has tried to assuage protesters' anger by making some concessions - like rolling back the fuel tax hike - and holding forums where officials can better listen to public demands.

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Yellow vest protesters gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press


Yellow vest protesters gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press


Yellow vest protesters walk down the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press


Shadows of yellow vest protesters are cast upon the ground as they demonstrate in the streets of Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press


Yellow vest protesters cross the Seine river on the Royal bridge while demonstrating in the streets of Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press


Yellow vest protesters are flanked by police riot officers as they demonstrate in the streets of Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. French yellow vest protest organizers are trying to tamp down violence and anti-Semitism in the movement's ranks as they launch a 15th straight weekend of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) - The Associated Press