The government says it is considering a state of emergency.
By Richard Lough and Geert De Clercq and cross-posted from Reuters
Several thousand riot police were overwhelmed on Saturday as they fought running battles with protesters in the shadows of some of Paris’ fabled landmarks and through its fanciest shopping districts. More than 400 people were arrested and more than 100 injured, shocking Parisians and tourists alike.
At the base of the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe, police kept the public back as cleanup crews set about erasing graffiti, much of it targeting President Emmanuel Macron and some exuding anarchist sentiment such as, “Overthrow the bourgeoisie!”
“I’ve worked on monuments around Paris for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this at the Arc de Triomphe. It was carnage,” a Paris City Hall official overseeing the cleanup said as his team worked on a graffito reading “Macron resign”.
Lasting damage might be caused if crews are forced to erode the arch’s stonework to render it clean, he said.
Authorities were caught off-guard by the escalation in violence after two weeks of nationwide unrest against fuel taxes and high living costs, known as the “yellow vest” movement after the fluorescent jackets worn by the protesters.
On the Rue Royale in the heart of Paris, half a dozen laborers gingerly replaced glass panes on the front of a Dior store. Next door, a Chanel employee vacuumed shards of glass from the floor, while carpenters removed the plywood panels that had been protecting a Gucci shop.
The government said it would consider a state of emergency in the face of unrest across the country.
The violence in Paris was the worst in the elegant center of the capital since the May 1968 student uprising that brought France to its knees…