Tear gas flies as tax protesters clash with police in Paris

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By Nancy Ing and Linda Givetash

PARIS — Thousands of French police were deployed Saturday on Paris’ famed Champs-Elysee Avenue to contain another round of demonstrations against gas tax hikes.

Police launched tear gas and water cannon as some of the so-called Yellow Jackets protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms tried to force their way across official lines.

Hundreds of demonstrators milled around at the top of the Champs-Elysee. Access to the major thoroughfare was closed to cars and monitored by police with identity checks and bag inspections.

Dec. 1, 201801:20

Police barricaded entrances to the Arc de Triomphe and other landmarks.

The roadblocks didn’t slow the protesters who set fires in the soaked streets and formed human barricades against officers.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Twitter that while 200 people were protesting peacefully, 1,500 others outside the perimeter were causing more serious disruptions. Paris police said at least 20 people were injured, including six officers, and more than 120 people were arrested.

A demonstrator holds a French flag during protests in Paris on Saturday.GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP – Getty Images

The movement has been organized largely over social media. Analysts have told NBC News it’s likely being propelled by the disenfranchised middle class.

Almost eight in ten people in France support the Yellow Jacket protesters, according to a poll published French media on Friday.

Despite the chaos Saturday, the clashes paled in comparison to a previous protest that saw 280,000 people take to the streets and block motorways across the country on Nov. 17.

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