French protesters angry over fuel taxes clash with police

French protesters angry over fuel taxes clash with police
A demonstrator waves the French flag onto a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue with the Arc de Triomphe in background, during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Michel Euler) (Source: Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris on Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes.

Thousands of police were deployed nationwide to contain the eighth day of deadly demonstrations that started as protests against tax but morphed into a rebuke of President Emmanuel Macron and the perceived elitism of France's ruling class. Two people have been killed since Nov. 17 in protest-related tragedies.

Tense clashes on the Champs-Elysees that ended by dusk Saturday saw police face off with demonstrators who burned plywood, wielded placards reading "Death to Taxes" and upturned a large vehicle.

At least 19 people, including four police officers, were slightly hurt and one person had more serious injuries in the day of unrest in Paris, according to police.

Macron responded in a strongly worded tweet: "Shame on those who attacked (police). Shame on those who were violent against other citizens ... No place for this violence in the Republic."

A demonstrator throws debris at a burning barricade while protesting with others against the rising of the fuel taxes on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator throws debris at a burning barricade while protesting with others against the rising of the fuel taxes on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

Police said that dozens of protesters were detained for "throwing projectiles," among other acts. By nightfall the Champs-Elysees was smoldering and in the Place de la Madeleine, burned scooters lay on the sidewalk like blackened shells.

A demonstrator shows his yellow jacket while another one throws a gas canister during a protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, on the Champs-Elysees avenue, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A demonstrator shows his yellow jacket while another one throws a gas canister during a protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, on the Champs-Elysees avenue, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

"It's going to trigger a civil war and me, like most other citizens, we're all ready," said Benjamin Vrignaud, a 21-year-old protester from Chartres.

A demonstrator stands amongst a burning makeshift barricade, set up on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, during a protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator stands amongst a burning makeshift barricade, set up on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, during a protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

"They take everything from us. They steal everything from us," said 21-year-old Laura Cordonnier.

Plumes of smoke are seen near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue decorated with the Christmas lightings during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Plumes of smoke are seen near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees avenue decorated with the Christmas lightings during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

The famed avenue was speckled with plumes of smoke and neon — owing to the color of the vests the self-styled "yellow jacket" protesters don. French drivers are required to keep neon security vests in their vehicles.

Officers take their positions during clashes with demonstrators protesting with others against the rising of the fuel taxes, on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Officers take their positions during clashes with demonstrators protesting with others against the rising of the fuel taxes, on the famed Champs Elysees avenue, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that 8,000 protesters flooded the Champs-Elysees at the demonstration's peak and there were nearly 106,000 protesters and 130 arrests in total nationwide.

A demonstrator throws a stone to police forces past a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator throws a stone to police forces past a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Michel Euler) (Source: Michel Euler)

Castaner denounced protesters from the far-right whom he called "rebellious," as he accused National Assembly leader Marine Le Pen of encouraging them.

Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, set up a makeshift barricade on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue as they protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, set up a makeshift barricade on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue as they protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

But the Interior Ministry played down the scale of Saturday's demonstrations by highlighting that up to 280,000 people took part in last Saturday's protest.

A demonstrator holds a flare on a barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A demonstrator holds a flare on a barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency.(AP Photo/Michel Euler) (Source: Michel Euler)

The unrest is proving a major challenge for embattled Macron, who's suffering in the polls.

A demonstrator stands by a fire on the Champs-Elysees avenue, during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A demonstrator stands by a fire on the Champs-Elysees avenue, during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

The leader, who swept to power only last year, is the focus of rage for the "yellow jacket" demonstrators who accuse the pro-business centrist of elitism and indifference to the struggles of ordinary French.

A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket kicks in a tear gas canister on the Champs-Elysees avenue, during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
A demonstrator wearing a yellow jacket kicks in a tear gas canister on the Champs-Elysees avenue, during a protest against tax Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse violent demonstrators in Paris, as thousands gathered in the capital and beyond and staged road blockades to vent anger against rising fuel taxes. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena) (Source: Christophe Ena)

Macron has so far held strong and insisted the fuel tax rises are a necessary pain to reduce France's dependence on fossil fuels and fund renewable energy investments — a cornerstone of his reforms of the nation. He will defend fresh plans to make the "energy transition" easier next week.

Police operates a water canon during clashes with demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protests against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Police operates a water canon during clashes with demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protests against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

Paris deployed some 3,000 security forces on Saturday, notably around tourist-frequented areas, after an unauthorized attempt last week to march on the presidential Elysee Palace.

A demonstrator braves the tear gas during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as he protests with others against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A demonstrator braves the tear gas during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as he protests with others against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

Police officials said that a no-go zone, set up around key areas including the presidential palace and the National Assembly on the Left Bank of the Seine River, has not been breached.

Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, gather around the Arc de Triomphe as they protest against the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, gather around the Arc de Triomphe as they protest against the fuel taxes, in Paris, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris Saturday, as thousands gathered in the capital and staged road blockades across the nation to vent anger against rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

But authorities are struggling because the movement has no clear leader and has attracted a motley group of people with broadly varying demands.

Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, run away in a cloud of tear gas during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, run away in a cloud of tear gas during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protest against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

The anger is mainly over a hike in the diesel fuel tax, which has gone up seven euro cents per liter (nearly 30 U.S. cents per gallon) and will keep climbing in coming years, according to Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne. The tax on gasoline is also to increase four euro cents. Gasoline currently costs about 1.64 euros a liter in Paris ($7.06 a gallon), slightly more than diesel.

Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, face riot police during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protests against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, face riot police during clashes on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, as they protests against the rising of the fuel taxes, France, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. France is deploying thousands of police to try to contain nationwide protests and road blockades by drivers angry over rising fuel taxes and Emmanuel Macron's presidency. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

Far left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon explained to BFMTV the historical importance of this issue in the Gallic mindset: "When tax is no longer agreed to, it's the start of revolutions in France."

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Chris Den Hond and Patrick Hermensen contributed to this report.