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Police deploy water cannons on yellow vest protesters as French riots extend into 5th weekend


France’s “yellow vest” protests carried on for the fifth consecutive weekend on Saturday.
Tear gas billowed Saturday across the French capital’s protest-scarred Champs-Elysees after a day of largely peaceful demonstrations and water cannons shot into the crowds on the fifth straight weekend of protests by the country’s “yellow vest” movement.
The demonstrations against France’s high cost of living — sapped by cold weather, rain and recent concessions by French President Emmanuel Macron — were significantly smaller Saturday than at previous rallies, some of which scarred parts of Paris with vandalism and looting.
A few thousand people marched up and down the famed shopping street in Paris, a spirited yet peaceful gathering that edged into violence as the afternoon wore on. Riot police clashed with demonstrators as the occasional tourist darted from their hotel or a brave Christmas shopper took a peek at the neighborhood’s mostly boarded-up storefronts.
In the late afternoon, a water cannon in a line of police vans confronting protesters sprayed water into a crowd in frigid weather to disperse them. Firefighters put out a fire on a side street leading to the Champs-Elysees and limited scuffles broke out between protesters and police.
Protesters made clear they wanted to keep up the pressure, even if their numbers were far smaller than previous weeks, which saw rioters smashing and looting stores and setting up burning barricades in the streets.
Pierre Lamy, a 27-year-old industrial worker wearing both a yellow vest and a French flag over his shoulders, said the movement had long stopped being about the fuel tax hike that sparked the protests in November but was now focused on economic justice.

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