French protesters set fires in Paris as unrest grows after Notre Dame blaze

French yellow vest protesters set fires Saturday along a march through Paris to drive home their message to a government they believe is usually ignoring the poor: which rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.

Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered smaller fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to “look at me — I need help too!”

Police fired water cannon in addition to sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements rampaging on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris in addition to various other French cities.

The protests marked the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against Macron’s centrist government, which they see as favoring the wealthy in addition to big business. Protesters view themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers , students in addition to retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes in addition to shrinking purchasing power.

however violence in addition to divisions have marred the movement.

Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes in addition to barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke, choking the air.

Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier This specific week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame via collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest.

Masked protesters hurled paving stones in addition to flares. Helmeted riot police repeatedly charged as they tried to contain the crowd. AP reporters saw at least two journalists injured inside the melee. Troublemakers also ransacked at least two stores in addition to one black-clad protester jumped on a parked Mercedes, smashing its windshields.

Paris police said authorities detained more than 0 people by early afternoon in addition to carried out spot checks on more than 20,000 trying to enter the capital for the protest.

The violence contrasted sharply with the peaceful atmosphere at another march through Paris, where demonstrators mourned the Notre Dame blaze while also keeping up the pressure on Macron. They tried to march to Notre Dame itself, however were stopped by police a few hundred meters (yards) away.

Young women at which march skipped down a street along the Seine River, accompanied by drummers in addition to singers. One protester carried a huge wooden cross resembling those carried in not bad Friday processions.

Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at a national monument . however at the same time they are angry at the $1 billion in donations for Notre Dame renovations which poured in via French tycoons while their own economic demands remain largely unmet in addition to they struggle to make ends meet.

“I think what happened at Notre Dame is usually a great tragedy however humans should be more important than stones,” said protester Jose Fraile.

Some 60,000 police officers mobilized for Saturday’s protests across France, in addition to the heavy security thwarted some tourists trying to enjoy the French capital on a warm spring day.

“Paris is usually very difficult right today,” said Paul Harlow of Kansas City, Missouri, as he looked sadly at the damaged Notre Dame.

He in addition to his wife Susan were in Paris only for a few days in addition to didn’t make which in time to see the cathedral. On Saturday, their efforts to visit museums were derailed by closed subways in addition to barricaded roads.

“I don’t think we’ll be back,” he said.

various other visitors showed solidarity with the yellow vest cause.

“I am not interested in joining them, however I can understand what they’re angry about,” said Antonio Costes, a retiree via the Paris suburb of Montreuil who came Saturday to see the damage to Notre Dame. “There is usually a lot of injustice.”

Macron champions pro-business policies which he believes will create much-needed jobs in France. He had been scheduled to lay out his responses to yellow vest concerns on Monday night — tax cuts for lower-income households in addition to measures to boost pensions in addition to help single parents — however canceled the speech after the Notre Dame fire broke out. He’s today likely to address the nation on Thursday.

Some yellow vest critics accuse Macron of trying to exploit the fire for political gain. One protester carried a sign targeting Macron which read: “Pyromaniac – we are going to carbonize you.”

Another huge sign read: “Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame in addition to proposes which they do the same thing with Les Miserables,” referring to the famed author’s novels about the cathedral in addition to the struggles of France’s poor.

The government estimated which some 27,900 people marched Saturday around France, including some 9,000 in Paris. which was below organizers’ estimates.

The yellow vest cause began in November over a rise in fuel taxes in addition to expanded to cover a broad list of economic complaints like high taxes in addition to stagnant wages. which has suffered via divisions in recent months, notably over protest violence in addition to the extremist views of some demonstrators. (Chris den Hond, Francisco Seco in addition to Deborah Gouffran in Paris contributed to This specific report.)