French riot police officers check people on the Champs-Elysees avenue during the Act XIX (the 19th consecutive national protest on a Saturday) of the “yellow vests” movement in Paris, France, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
PARIS (Reuters) – French “yellow vest” demonstrators began their 19th consecutive weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s government on Saturday as military units were deployed to help police clamp down on any trouble.
Protesters were banned from gathering on the Champs Elysees in Paris after shops and businesses on the avenue were looted and wrecked last weekend, leading the government to call in “Operation Sentinelle” army units for this weekend.
Demonstrators began marching in the capital on Saturday along a new route taking them from Denfert Rochereau in southern Paris with the aim of finishing by Barbes, near the Sacre Coeur church in northern Paris.
Named after the high-visibility vests French drivers have to keep in their cars and worn by protesters, the demonstrations began in November after public anger against fuel tax rises.
The movement has morphed into a broader backlash against Macron’s government, despite it scrapping the fuel taxes, and it has often been marred by violent clashes and looting.
Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alexander Smith and Helen Popper