Paris police clash with ‘yellow vest’ protesters, Saudi embassy cautions citizens

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Demonstrators wearing yellow jackets stand by a burning motorbike near the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. (AP)
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Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) protesters gather as material burns during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs near the Arc of Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on November 24, 2018. (AFP)
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Police officers fire a tear gas during a “Yellow vest” protests against higher fuel prices, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, November 24, 2018. (Reuters)
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French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris. (Reuters)
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Police fired tear gas and water cannon on November 24 in central Paris against “yellow vest” protesters demanding French President Emmanuel Macron roll back tax hikes on motor fuel. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2018
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Paris police clash with ‘yellow vest’ protesters, Saudi embassy cautions citizens

  • Several thousand demonstrators, wearing yellow jackets, gathered on the avenue as part of protests which began last Saturday
  • Saudi Embassy in France cautions Saudi residents and tourists in Paris to avoid the Champs-Elysée

PARIS: Police fired tear gas and water cannon Saturday in central Paris against “yellow vest” protesters demanding French President Emmanuel Macron roll back tax hikes on motor fuel.
Some 3,000 police were deployed in the capital as demonstrators who have blocked French roads over the past week wearing their now signature high-visibility jackets caused another day of disruption after calls to bring Paris to a standstill.


AFP reporters said several thousand had gathered by early Saturday on the famous Champs-Elysees where they clashed with police trying to prevent them moving down to the Place de la Concorde near the Louvre museum.
Police said the protesters had tried to break through a cordon several times but had been prevented from doing so, with tear gas used more than once.
“We have just demonstrated peacefully, and we were teargassed,” said Christophe, 49, who traveled from the Isere region in eastern France with his wife to protest in the capital. “We see how we are welcomed in Paris.”
Police said Saturday’s incidents were linked to the “presence of members of the far-right who harassed the security forces.”

French police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Paris. (AP)

Nearly 300,000 people blocked motorways, roundabouts, businesses, and fuel depots last Saturday.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that by late morning, only 23,000 protesters had turned out across France, compared with about 124,000 at the same time the previous Saturday.
Castener said 8,000 took to the streets in Paris, with about 5,000 on the Champs-Elysees. He blamed the violence in the iconic boulevard on the far-right and Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally (formerly the National Front) party.
The police were facing seditious groups “who notably had responded to the call of Marine Le Pen and want to attack the country’s institutions just as they want to attack (government) lawmakers,” the minister said.
Le Pen rejected the remarks, saying she had never called for violence and claiming the government was trying to make her the scapegoat.
Police said eight people had so far been arrested for throwing projectiles.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy to France called on its citizens, both residents and tourists, in the French capital to avoid the Champs-Elysées and surrounding areas for the time being and until the situation is resolved.
In the event of an emergency, the embassy urged Saudi citizens to contact the mission immediately.
The demonstrations were sparked by an increase in diesel tax, justified as an anti-pollution levy by the government but have morphed into a broad opposition front to centrist Macron.
Protesters had converged early Saturday on the Place de l’Etoile at the top of the Champs-Elysee avenue, shouting “Macron resign.”
Police had cordoned off a zone that included the Place de la Concorde, the National Assembly and a section of the Champs-Elysees.

Police in riot gear take positions as protesters, called the “yellow jackets,” block the highway leading to the airport in Sainte Marie, to protest against the rising of the fuel and oil prices. (AP)

“In this zone, no demonstration, no gathering, no march linked to the ‘yellow vests’ can take place,” said Paris police chief Michel Delpuech.
He said mobile police units backed by helicopters were ready to intervene in case of violence or attempts to block the Paris ring road.
“The government has done everything to demonize the movement that will take place in Paris,” said protester Clement Jonie, who came in from the suburbs.
Two people have died and over 750 people, including 136 police officers, were injured during the week of demonstrations that shone a light on frustration over stagnant spending power and the rollback in public services in some areas of France.
On Friday evening, a man with an explosive device and demanding protesters be allowed to meet the French president turned himself in to police in Angers in western France.
Local official Bernard Gonzalez said: “There was a real risk, real danger, he had an explosive charge around his neck... This was not fake.”
Former investment banker Macron was elected on a pledge to put more money in workers’ pockets but the effects of his reforms on purchasing power — persistently shown as one of the biggest concerns of the French — have been limited so far.
The poor and low-paid are particularly incensed at his decision to hike anti-pollution taxes on diesel and petrol, while scrapping a wealth tax on the rich.
Opposition parties on the hard left and right have cheered on the protesters, whose revolt was described by 77 percent of respondents in an Odoxa poll for Le Figaro newspaper as “justified.”
Macron, who is under pressure to tackle pollution ahead of European Parliament elections next year in which the environment is expected to feature prominently, has refused to back down on taxing polluters.

Demonstrators hold a banner reading “Macron, destitution, government resignation, system, abolition” next to a burning barricade on the Champs-Elysees avenue during a demonstration against the rising of the fuel taxes, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 in Paris. (AP)

But with his ratings languishing at record lows of under 30 percent, he has sought to present a more empathetic side.
“We have heard the message of citizens,” one of his aides said on Thursday.
Revolts against taxes have been a feature of French public life for centuries — citizens pay some of the highest in Europe as a percentage of GDP — while fuel price protests are a common occurrence.
On Saturday meanwhile, womens’ groups organized protests in major French cities to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

(With AFP)


Students in ‘Make America Great Again’ hats mock Native American after rally

Updated 20 min 56 sec ago
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Students in ‘Make America Great Again’ hats mock Native American after rally

  • Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum
  • Officials said they are investigating and will take ‘appropriate action, up to and including expulsion’
FRANKFORT, Kentucky: A diocese in Kentucky apologized Saturday after videos emerged showing students from a Catholic boys’ high school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.
The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.
Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum.
Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.
In a joint statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized to Phillips. Officials said they are investigating and will take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”
“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the statement read. “This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”
According to the “Indian Country Today” website, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.
Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of the march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as “Make America great” and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance.
In a phone interview, Frejo told The Associated Press he felt they were mocking the dance and also heckling a couple of black men nearby. He approached the group with Phillips to defuse the situation, joining him in singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement and beating out the tempo on hand drums.
Although he feared a mob mentality that could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing among the scorn and he briefly felt something special happen as they repeatedly sang the tune.
“They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times,” Frejo said. “That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths.”
Eventually a calm fell over the group of students and they broke up and walked away.
“When I was there singing, I heard them saying ‘Build that wall, build that wall,’” Phillips said, as he wiped away tears in a video posted on Instagram. “This is indigenous lands. We’re not supposed to have walls here. We never did.”
He told The Washington Post that while he was drumming, he thought about his wife, Shoshana, who died of bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the threats that indigenous communities around the world are facing.
“I felt like the spirit was talking through me,” Phillips said.
State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, a North Dakota state lawmaker and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said she was saddened to see students showing disrespect to an elder who is also a US military veteran at what was supposed to be a celebration of all cultures.
“The behavior shown in that video is just a snapshot of what indigenous people have faced and are continuing to face,” Buffalo said.
She said she hoped it would lead to some kind of meeting with the students to provide education on issues facing Native Americans.
The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage “brought me to tears,” while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students’ actions were “appalling” and “shameful.”
US Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and had been at the rally earlier in the day, used Twitter to sharply criticize what she called a “heartbreaking” display of “blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance.”
Haaland, who is also Catholic, told The Associated Press she was particularly saddened to see the boys mocking an elder, who is revered in Native American culture. She placed some of the blame on President Donald Trump, who has used Indian names like Pocahontas as an insult.
“It is sad that we have a president who uses Native American women’s names as racial slurs and that’s an example that these kids are clearly following considering the fact that they had their ‘Make America Great Again’ hats on,” Haaland said. “He’s really brought out the worst in people.”