French authorities detained hundreds Saturday as the "yellow vest" protests, aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron's economic and climate change policies, entered their fourth weekend.
The BBC reports that at least 1,000 people have been taken into custody across France. Dozens were injured — including a handful of police officers — in demonstrations that drew more than 10,000 people to Paris' city center, and more than 100,000 to the streets across France, including in "Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Grenoble."
A shocking video taken from above the Paris protests shows the scope of the demonstrations — and the devastation left in their wake.
Here is a bird’s-eye view of the riots in Paris. pic.twitter.com/Fjy939UsnH— Anna Paulina (@realannapaulina) December 8, 2018
The French government reportedly dispatched more than 90,000 law enforcement officers nationwide, with 8,000 dispatched in Paris alone. Police used heavy armored vehicles to control the crowd which stayed contained, again, primarily to the Champs-Elysées, Paris' primary thoroughfare.
Freelance reporter Clement Lanot captured footage of small tanks deployed to protect major tourist attractions like the Arc de Triomphe, the massive Louvre museum, and the Musee D'Orsay, which hosts some of the world's more precious Impressionist works.
French authorities said Saturday that they felt confident the protests were contained and, indeed, the protests in Paris were smaller than they have been in previous weeks — thanks, likely, to concessions made on the part of Macron's government to scale back and indefinitely delay gasoline taxes designed to curb French reliance on fossil fuels by pricing domestic fuel users out of the market.
But the demonstrations are spreading as concerned French citizens share their issues with Macron's government on social media. This week, more people demonstrated in towns and cities outside of Paris, and protests spread all the way to Belgium and the Netherlands, according to the Associated Press.
"Belgian police fired tear gas and water cannons at yellow-vested protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel after they tried to breach a riot barricade, as the movement that started in France made its mark Saturday in Belgium and the Netherlands," the AP reported.
In those countries, though, it's not immediately clear to the government what is sparking the protests. Unlike in France, the Belgians and the Dutch aren't about to be hit with new fuel surcharges in order to handle "climate change." But the AP does report that there's a growing displeasure with what protesters consider "out-of-touch" centralized government that continues to tax and regulate ordinary citizens without concern for the financial burden ordinary Belgians and Dutch shoulder.
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation this week, as his approval rating hovers just above 20%. The appearance will mark the first time Macron has said anything publicly since the riots began; the president has preferred to leave communication with the crowds to his prime minister, something that's only thrown fuel on the fire.
There's not much more Macron can do, however, without cutting French welfare benefits. Even if the government lowers taxes, or rolls back more surcharges, it's in danger of falling into dire financial straits because of the cost of sustaining France's massive welfare state. And Macron cannot raise taxes on the rich, either; his predecessor, Francois Hollande, instituted a "millionaire's tax" that drove high-income earners out of France altogether. Macron campaigned on a pledge to repeal the "millionaire's tax."
The protesters say they're not giving up, however, and claim they're planning demonstrations all the way through the winter.