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France’s gilets jaunes target luxury shops and restaurant in protests | World news

Category: Political Protests,Politics

An 18th weekend of gilets jaunes protests erupted once more into violence and looting on Saturday as masked demonstrators smashed their way into luxury stores on the Champs-Élysées and destroyed one of the street’s most celebrated restaurants.

Demonstrators fought running battles with police who responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Hugo Boss and Nespresso stores were among those targeted as well as the chic Le Fouquet’s restaurant, popular with the wealthy and powerful. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy was criticised for holding his election victory party at Le Fouquet’s in 2007, leading to him being seen as out of touch with ordinary people before even taking office.

The violence erupted a day after Emmanuel Macron’s “great national debate” closed and as the yellow vest movement appeared to be running out of steam with dwindling numbers turning out for weekend protests. The national debate was Macron’s response to the concerns of ordinary people in what started as a grassroots movement against fuel tax rises last November.

As well as smashing luxury store fronts, protesters on the Champs-Élysées attacked police and gendarmerie vehicles. By midday, the prefecture said police had arrested 44 people and estimated there were up to 8,000 gilets jaunes demonstrating in the city.

Le Fouquet’s restaurant is seen as symbolic of French power and was also a favourite with the late Socialist president François Mitterrand, a regular diner with his own table – number 83.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner praised the “sangfroid and determination” of law enforcement officers.

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