Paris, 2 February 2019 (MIA/dpa) – Thousands of Yellow Vests demonstrators took to the streets across France on Saturday, with many protesting at the injuries suffered by protesters in previous clashes with police.
In eastern Paris, several thousand protesters marched, mostly quietly, along wide boulevards, with some chanting criticism of President Emmanuel Macron or singing the French national anthem.
Some protesters wore eye patches in homage to those who have been blinded by rubber bullets or other projectiles – a total of 14 since the movement started in mid-November, according to a tally by newspaper Liberation.
Television images showed some minor clashes with police in Paris.
In the Rhone Valley town of Valence, the local prefecture published a picture of weapons and protective equipment that had been confiscated in stop and search operations, and said 14 people had been arrested.
Saturday’s protests came a day after France’s top administrative court rejected calls for police to be banned from using rubber bullets, which have been blamed for most of the serious injuries.
Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic earlier this week said she was “seriously concerned about the number and severity of injuries resulting from the use of force by law enforcement officers.”
But Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Friday said previous weekends had seen vandalism and attacks on police.
“To sum up, if the law had simply been respected, there would have been no injuries,” he insisted.
The largely leaderless Yellow Vest movement initially opposed planned fuel tax rises but has since raised further demands mainly concerning the cost of living and calls for more direct forms of democracy.