March 24 (UPI) — Yellow Vest protests were less violent Saturday compared to last weekend as police outnumbered demonstrators in Paris, law enforcement said.
About 3,000 protesters gathered in the French capital and marched in opposition of French President Emmanuel Macron‘s government. The French Interior Ministry estimated 8,300 people protested nationwide.
Authorities shut down the famed street as nearly 6,000 police officers kept the peace Saturday. Paris police Chief Didier Lallement said law enforcement took a more “proactive” approach to this weekend’s protests to avoid the violence of the previous week.
“Authorized marches are, of course, perfectly acceptable and they will be accompanied by police along their way to make sure everything goes fine,” Lallement said. “Anyone assembling for a march which hasn’t been authorized will be stopped and sent away. If they persist in coming back, they will be fined.”
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner fired Lallement’s predecessor, Michel Delpuech, after last week’s violence.
French legislators passed a law in an effort to crack down on protesters by allowing administrative authorities to issue a ban on protests, bypassing courts. The Yellow Vest protest takes its name from the fluorescent road-safety garment that all French drivers are made to carry in their vehicles.
The weekly Yellow Vest protests, which started late last year, began with people from rural areas who protested fuel tax increases seen as a green tax supported by President Emmanuel Macron. The protests then morphed to represent a wide variety of complaints from the standard of living, shrinking social welfare benefits and other issues.