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The Latest: French protesters demand attention from Macron

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Via AP Business

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the yellow vest protests in France (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

French yellow vest protesters have set fires along a march through Paris to drive home their message to the government that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”

Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march.

The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.

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6:35 p.m.

Masked protesters and helmeted riot police have clashed repeatedly in Paris amid tensions on the edges of a yellow vest protest.

Tear gas hung in the air throughout the afternoon Saturday around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris.

Radical protesters hurled paving stones and flares, attacked at least one boarded-up store, and set fire to a few vehicles. Police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd.

Associated Press reporters saw at least two journalists injured in the melee.

Meanwhile a separate, smaller crowd of yellow vests marched peacefully toward the cordoned-off neighborhood around the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral. Young women skipped down a street along the Seine River with drummers and singers.

They are urging the French government not to forget the troubles of the poor even as it gathers millions to rebuild the cathedral.

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3 p.m.

A car, motorbikes and multiple barricades are ablaze in eastern Paris as a yellow vest protest has degenerated into scattered violence.

Paris firefighters are battling multiple small but impressive fires Saturday around the Place de la Republique. The smell of tear gas mixed with black smoke choking the air.

Associated Press reporters saw a car and motorbikes on fire and multiple volleys of tear gas and dispersion grenades, as riot police worked to control the crowd. Several protesters also set flares.

French television showed images of volunteer medics treating a yellow-vested protester lying on the ground.

While that neighborhood was tense, overall Saturday’s yellow vest actions have been peaceful. Many protesters are frustrated that the international effort to help fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral has eclipsed the five-month-old yellow vest movement against wealth inequality.

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2 p.m.

Protesters have set small fires and police have fired tear gas on the sidelines of yellow vest demonstrations in the French capital.

The Paris police headquarters said authorities detained 126 people by early afternoon and carried out spot checks of more than 11,000 people trying to enter the capital for Saturday’s protests.

Police fired tear gas amid tensions at a march of several thousand people from France’s Finance Ministry toward the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. Barricades were set ablaze at one spot, and branches set on fire elsewhere. Firefighters quickly responded to extinguish the flames.

The march was one of several actions around Paris and other French cities Saturday.

The protesters are angry at high taxes and economic injustice, and are largely peaceful. Some are also frustrated that the effort to save fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral is eclipsing the yellow vest movement’s demands.

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10:15 a.m.

French yellow vest protesters are marching anew to remind the government that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem the nation needs to solve.

Multiple protest events are planned around Paris and other cities Saturday for the 23rd weekend of the yellow vest movement against wealth inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership.

One group wants to march on the presidential palace despite bigger-than-usual police presence. Another is aimed at showing yellow vest mourning over the Notre Dame blaze while also keeping up pressure on Macron.

Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at a national monument. But many are angry at the $1 billion in Notre Dame donations that poured in from tycoons while their own demands remain largely unmet and they struggle to make ends meet.


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