French police fired tear gas and doused violent protesters with water in Paris on Saturday during the clashes and rioting in downtown Paris ahead of the first anniversary of nationwide anti-government “Yellow Vest” demonstrations.
The Place d’Italie circle in the city’s 13th arrondissement descended into chaos as protesters erected makeshift barricades and threw stones at police officers, which responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Demonstrators, many clad in black and hiding their faces, vandalized an HSBC bank branch at the Place d’Italie. They set trash bins on fire and hurled cobblestones and bottles at riot police while building barricades.
The protesters overturned several parked cars and set vehicles on fire. A group of Yellow Vests attempted to block a fire truck from getting through to the barricades, which were also set ablaze.
A shopping mall and several bus stops were vandalized when the protesters vented their anger over what they deem as government inaction towards their demands, made throughout a full year of weekly demonstrations.
The windows of a bank were smashed during the rioting. The protester groups on social media had earlier called on their colleagues to occupy and block several stores, including the Ikea and Apple stores.
Police were also called in to disperse protesters who were blocking traffic along the Boulevard Peripherique, the city’s main ring ‘beltway’ road.
The authorities revoked their permit to stage a rally at the Place d’Italie, after the protests turned violent. Police had arrested 61 protesters by 3pm, Prefect of Paris Didier Lallement confirmed, adding that some officers were injured in the clashes.
The Yellow Vests riots first hit the streets of major French cities in November last year.