France’s ‘yellow vests’ hit Paris streets for fifth week of protests

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By Lucy Kafanov and Linda Givetash

PARIS — Protesters wearing their now-famous yellow vests held a minute’s silence on the streets of the French capital Saturday morning for those injured and killed in clashes with police. It was a brief moment of quiet amid weeks of demonstrations that have roiled the country and seized global attention.

In Paris, armed officers patrolled eerily empty streets as authorities braced for the fifth consecutive weekend of nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron.

Some storefronts were boarded up, though others remained open to welcome Christmas shoppers.

An estimate 33,000 people took to the streets — less than half the number seen the previous weekend. The demonstrations were largely peaceful and clashes were contained.

Similar protests in recent weekends turned violent, with protesters smashing and looting stores and setting up burning barricades in the streets.Margot Haddad / NBC News

The “yellow vest” protests began last month against planned tax hikes on gas but have since morphed into a wider rebuke of Macron’s presidency and an expression of anger at his attempts to reform France’s long-ailing economy.

Escalating riots forced Paris into lockdown, while violent clashes with police resulted in hundreds of arrests, along with many injuries and six deaths.

The number of fatalities increased Saturday when a driver died after colliding with a truck that had been stopped by a barrage of “yellow vest” protesters near the Belgian border.

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