Dec. 2 (UPI) — French President Emmanuel Macron planned to hold an emergency security meeting Sunday one day after the third weekend of at-times violent protests in Paris.
Saturday’s anti-government clashes between demonstrators and police led to some 183 arrests and left at least 100 people injured, including law enforcement officers. A car crash caused by a traffic jam associated with the demonstrations left one person dead — the third person to die in protest-related traffic since protests began Nov. 17.
Macron, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner planned to hold a Cabinet meeting to determine how to deal with the protesters, who are angry at higher living costs spurred in part by an increased fuel tax.
The president returned from the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and traveled directly to the Arc de Triomphe to assess damage at the famed monument near his Elysee Palace. Protesters damaged some of the sculpture on the arch and others spray painted “Yellow Jackets Will Triumph,” a reference to the name of the loosely organized group behind the protests.
“It is out of the question that each weekend becomes a meeting or ritual for violence,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.
He told Europe 1 radio the government is considering imposing a state of emergency.
The French interior ministry blamed extremists for violence at the famous monument, pointing out that around 5,000 peaceful demonstrators, some holding roses, had marched near the Champs-Élysées.
Prime Minister Phillipe made the distinction between peaceful demonstrators and the ones breaking the law.
“We are attached to freedom of expression, but also to respect for the law,” he said.