A group of approximately 1,000 "black bloc" anarchists infiltrated two Paris marches on Saturday, provoking clashes with police which led to mass arrests, according to AFP.
The group first began marching with a Yellow Vest anti-government protest - setting fire to street barricades and breaking windows.
The anarchists then infiltrated a climate march, causing nonviolent families to abandon the event as French riot police deployed tear gas and other measures. Approximately 7,500 security forces were involved in the effort to police the events, while 163 people were arrested. The climate march organizers urged protesters to go home after the clashes turned violent.
Portés par le vent les gaz lacrymogènes de la tête de manif atteignent tout le cortège obligeant les manifestants à s’écarter, surtout ceux venus avec leurs enfants #marcheclimat pic.twitter.com/5KswDFFR27— Aline Leclerc (@aline_leclerc) September 21, 2019
Around 15,200 took part in the climate march, according to the independent Occurence consultancy, while organisers claimed 50,000 and the police put the number at 16,000. -AFP
The Yellow Vest movement is now in its 10th month of protests despite French President Emmanuel Macron granting a series of economic concessions to reduce taxes and boost minimum wages along with other employement benefits.
#YellowVest (#GiletsJaunes) protests Bordeaux— Oh boy what a shot (@ohboywhatashot) September 22, 2019
✔️ 45 weeks of protests
✔️ 11 dead
✔️ 76 seriously injured
✔️ 2500 injured
✔️ 23 lost an eye
✔️ 5 lost a hand
✔️ thousands arrested
✔️ no mainstream media coverage
It would be a shame if this tweet went viralpic.twitter.com/MNkfyoZdnA
"We are assembling just to say that we can't make ends meet. (The protest) is not only against the president, it's against the system," one female protester told AFP.
Others denounced what they said was overreach by security forces.
"This is hell. We're fewer than 100, and police charge. That's David versus Goliath," said demonstrator Pierre, his eyes red with teargas.
The weekly demonstrations around France -- Saturday was the 45th -- prompted Macron to loosen the state's purse strings to the tune of nearly 17 billion euros ($18.8 billion) in wage boosts and tax cuts for low earners. -AFP
While the protests have been smaller during the summer, it remains to be seen whether they will regain momentum into the fall - particularly as we approach the one-year anniversary.
On Friday, Macron called for "calm," adding that while "it's good that people express themselves," they should not interfere with legally authorized protests and other events scheduled for Saturday.
Yellow Vest leader Jerome Rodrigues called Saturday's protest a "revelatory demonstration," adding that "many people are going to come to Paris."
Officials again outlawed protests on the Champs-Elysees avenue and other areas in the heart of the capital, where previously protesters had ransacked and set fire to luxury shops and restaurants during previous rallies.
Police on the Champs-Elysees used teargas and batons to scatter protesters who tried to violate the ban there.
Police headquarters said some of the protesters had carrying hammers and petrol canisters.
But one demonstrator, who identified herself only as Brigitte, said: "We are being treated like criminals." -AFP
The use of teargas and stun grenades on climate protesters drew harsh rebuke from climate activists, such as Greenpeace and French climate group ANV-COP21, which denounced the harsh treatment.