Yellow vest protests continue into eighth week

The'yellow vest protests started in November over opposition to Macron's planned fuel tax hikes

Macron's government has been shaken by the unrest, caught off-guard when in November the yellow vests began blocking roads, occupying highway tollbooths and staging violent invasions of Paris and other cities on weekends.

Police made four arrests Friday evening in the northeastern city of Nancy after some 50 demonstrators tried to block the entrance of newspaper L'Est Republicain.

Clashes later broke out in and around the Champs-Élysées Avenue in the early evening, with television broadcasts showing several burned cars on a side street.

Officers fired tear gas to prevent protesters crossing the river and reaching the National Assembly.

The police officer - a commander who was granted France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, on January 1 - was referred to investigators at the weekend after appearing to punch a protester in the face several times.

There were also skirmishes between police and protesters in the northern port city of Caen.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, who was evacuated from his ministry in central Paris when a handful of protesters in high-visibility vests smashed down the large wooden door to the ministry compound, denounced the break-in as an "unacceptable attack on the Republic".

Demonstrators wearing their yellow vests brandish a French flag during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018.

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Public anger has on occasion been directed at the media, seen by some as too close to the government, a widespread phenomenon across the West.

Police on Wednesday night arrested one of the movement's prominent figures.

The government has deployed police around France to deal with the protests, backed up by specialist response units, sources told AFP.

President Emmanuel Macron has offered concessions; however, they are not almost enough in the eyes of many protesters; and as the protests continue, so does the occasional violence that follows it.

In December, Macron pledged to increase the minimum wage and get rid of new pension taxes, a move that didn't appease the anger of some of the protesters.

The protests have turned into the biggest political crisis of Macron's 20-month presidency and brought his popularity ratings to an all-time low.

The rallies started in mid-November as a simple protest against planned fuel hikes, but soon morphed into mass demonstrations against President Emanuel Macron's policies.

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