Paris police turn away protesters, seize goggles

Paris warns radicals are trying to exploit Yellow Vests & overthrow the government

Paris police asked dozens of shop and restaurant owners around the Champs Elysees and Bastille areas to close on Saturday and requested local authorities in 15 areas around the capital to remove anything in the streets that could be used as projectiles.

Serge Mairesse, a 62-year-old retired Air France worker from Aubervilliers, just north of Paris, told The Wall Street Journal he wanted to reach the Elysee Palace to "register his anger" over the "government's antisocial policies".

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Friday resources would be deployed to stop protests from being hijacked by "a small minority" who have been "radicalized and fallen into violence and hate".

Shops, museums, the Eiffel Tower and many metro stations were closed as much of the city-centre went on effective lockdown.

The "yellow vest" protests, named after the safety jackets worn by demonstrators, began on 17 November in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but have since grown into a wider movement against Emmanuel Macron in the biggest challenge of his presidency so far.

Hundreds of people gathered early Saturday around the Arc de Triomphe, which was damaged in rioting a week ago.

Police are searching people throughout central Paris and confiscating goggles and gas masks from journalists, who use them to protect against tear gas while covering demonstrations.

Protesters who came to Paris from Normandy described seeing officers block yellow-vested passengers from boarding public transportation at stops along their route. By 8:40 am (0740 GMT) police had already detained 278 people.

ASSOCIATED PRESS A demonstrator wearing a yellow vest is covered in blood after getting in injured during a protest in Paris. So the protesters tried other routes, marching through the prime shopping district that includes the high-end stores of Galeries Lafayette and Printemps and the Palais Garnier opera house.

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He said the protests had "created a monster" and vowed a zero-tolerance approach by police to violence. No injuries have been reported.

About 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, some 8,000 of them in Paris.

Many members of the protest movement are calling for calm, and some struck a conciliatory tone after meeting the prime minister Friday night, in a last-minute bid to cool tempers.

A police spokeswoman told reporters there were about 1,500 protesters on the Champs Elysees boulevard and authorities said 211 people had been arrested after police found weapons such as hammers, baseball bats and metal petanque balls on them.

He later tweeted that the protests were "very sad" and reiterated his call for Mr Macron to pull out of the Paris climate change deal, and agree to lower taxes.

Four people have been killed in accidents since the unrest began.

Seizing on the momentum from the protests, students start demonstrating over education reforms, disrupting dozens of high schools every day from Dec 3.

Protesters also blocked roads, roundabouts and tollbooths elsewhere in France. After a month of protests inspired by a new fuel tax, there are fears the "yellow vest" movement has been infiltrated by radical and violent protesters. Even so, police fired tear gas and used water cannons and horses to charge at protesters.

In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, a few hundred protesters in the high-visibility vests walked peacefully across the Erasmus Bridge singing and handing flowers to passers-by.

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