Scuffles broke out between some French protesters angry over rising taxes and police for a third straight weekend, after small pockets of demonstrators built barricades in the middle of streets in central Paris and lit fires Saturday.
Thousands of police were deployed to try to contain the protests on and around the famed Champs-Elysees avenue.
Most of the protesters, called “yellow jackets” for the fluorescent vests they wear, were peaceful. But others mixed in with them wore black hoodies and piled up construction materials, including large plywood planks, in the middle of a street near the Arc de Triomphe, and set the rubble on fire.
Police responded by firing bursts from a water cannon with backup from riot officers, who used tear gas on the protesters.
In addition to rising taxes, demonstrators are furious about President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership. A demonstration last weekend in Paris also turned violent.
Earlier Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at the top of the Champs-Elysees on Saturday morning. Access to the avenue was closed to cars and strictly monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds as some tried to force their way through.
The protests, which began with motorists demonstrating against a fuel tax hike, now involve a broad range of demands related to the country’s high cost of living.
Shopkeepers on the Champs-Elysees prepared for possible new violence, bringing in workers to barricade boutique windows with boards. Decorative iron grates, used last week in barricades, were removed from around trees and outdoor terraces dismantled.
All subway stations in and around the famous avenue were closed for security reasons, Paris public transport company RATP said.
Last week, French authorities said 8,000 people demonstrated on the Champs-Elysees avenue. Some of the protesters torched barriers and plywood boards. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to push back angry demonstrators.
Since the protests kicked off Nov. 17, two people were killed and hundreds injured in accidents stemming from the protests since they kicked off Nov. 17, and hundreds of protesters and police have been injured.
Meanwhile, hundreds of roads blockades were also held quietly across the country.