PARIS – Thousands of people took to the French capital city of Paris on Saturday to protest against police violence as part of an action called by the so-called Yellow Vest movement.
The main march kicked off at noon (1100 GMT) and headed towards the Place de la Republique square, where the demonstration was expected to wind down at about 5:00 pm.
“The theme of today is police violence because it’s insufferable,” one of the participants, M. Leduc, 36, told EFE.
Leduc, who lives on the outskirts of Paris, was wearing a patch as a tribute to protesters who have lost eyes, allegedly after being hit by rubber bullets fired by police during the demos.
“They ban us from protesting and fire on us with no good reason. There’s a lot of repression, there are lots of injuries, we were born as a peaceful movement and this violence is not understood,” the protester said.
Jerôme Rodrigues, a prominent figure of the “gilets jaunes” who was injured in the eye during a confrontation, attended the march on Saturday.
It was the 12th Saturday of protests as part of a movement that began on Nov. 17 last year, originally against fuel tax hikes but which has since spiraled into a wider expression of anti-government sentiment.
Protesters have taken to towns and cities across the country over the past three months as part of the on-going protests.
French daily Le Parisien said Saturday protests were taking place in Lyon, Montpellier, Rouen, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Marseille, among other places.
Some 5,000 members of the security forces have been deployed in the capital of a total 80,000 nationwide, according to the interior ministry, as cited by Le Parisien.
Saturday’s protest came a day after France’s top court, the Council of State, ruled police could continue to use rubber bullet launchers against protesters.
Since the marches began in November, several violent clashes have broken out, most notably on Dec. 2 when the capital’s iconic Arc de Triomphe and shops along the Champs-Elysees avenue were damaged.