‘Red scarves’ march in Paris to protest against ‘yellow vest’ violence

Paris: Hundreds of people wearing red scarves marched through Paris on Sunday to protest against acts of violence and vandalism that have taken place during 'yellow vest' anti-government demonstrations.

At a rally in Paris on Sunday, hundreds of people wearing red scarves protested against the violence unleashed during two months of anti-government demonstrations by the grassroots yellow vest movement.Credit:AP

The 'red scarves' demonstration came amid growing divisions around the yellow vest phenomenon, which has led to rioting in Paris and other cities and exposed deep discontent with President Emmanuel Macron's reformist policies.

‘Red scarves’ protesters in Paris on Sunday.Credit:AP

Protest damage to the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris in December was a turning point for many of the counter-protesters at Sunday's march.

"We don't share all the demands expressed by the yellow vest movement, for instance demands about overthrowing the government [or] brutalising institutions," Laurent Segnis, a member of Macron's centrist Republic on the Move party, said.

Others lamented that a protest that appeared in mid-November as a grassroots response to a fuel tax had been hijacked by more radical elements.

Ten people have died in road incidents since the protests started on November 17 and about 2000 people have been injured. Regular protests in Paris and other cities routinely descend into clashes between riot police and participants who throw rocks at officers and light fires in the streets.

The yellow vest movement sees Macron's government as favouring the wealthy. Many movement supporters dismissed the "red scarves" as Macron stooges, though the President's party did not officially take part in or endorse the counter-demonstrations.

Macron has announced a ‘national debate’ to generate public discourse and address the concerns of the yellow vests and their sympathisers.

Meanwhile, an offshoot of the yellow vests, the Citizens' Initiative Rally,  has announced it would field candidates in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Protesters carry an anti-violence banner through the streets of Paris on Sunday.Credit:AP

Some 69,000 people nationwide took part on Saturday in the 11th week of yellow vest protests, down from more than 80,000 during the previous two weekends, according to the French Interior Ministry.

The protests in Paris were scattered, with different groups staging events at different sites.

On Sunday, French police were investigating how a prominent yellow vest protester, Jerome Rodrigues, suffered an eye injury in Paris. Video images show Rodriguez collapsed on the ground Saturday near the Bastille monument, where protesters throwing projectiles clashed with police seeking to disperse them.

Police armed with guns that fire non-lethal rubber balls – ammunition that has seriously injured a number of demonstrators – were equipped with body cameras on the weekend for the first time. Officials said the cameras were being used as an experiment to record use of the non-lethal weapons, providing context and eventual evidence if needed.


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