France seeks answers after police failure to contain rioting

France seeks answers after police failure to contain rioting

Following a weekend of destruction, which saw police attacked, iconic restaurants burned, and retailers threatened, French authorities have chose to call time on the so-called "Yellow Vest" protests, banning them from the Champs Elysees and other key areas where demonstrators have been gathering. Tourists took pictures as shop owners tried to fix broken windows and city workers scrubbed away graffiti, much of it targeting Macron. The demonstrators also set fire to a bank on the ground floor of an apartment building. They come from the far left and the far right. A mother and baby almost died.

It was far from the 250,000 who protested in December. At issue, lawmakers noted the resulting downgrade in France's trading situation and "economic attractiveness", that comes as a effect to the disruptions on the street, the Senate said in a statement Sunday.

Castaner, a long-time ally of Macron who had no law-and-order experience before becoming interior minister in October, is also facing renewed scrutiny of his record amid calls from some in the opposition Republicans party for him to resign.

"We are neither pariahs nor terrorists", Thierry-Paul Valette, co-founder of the "Yellow Vest Citizens" group, said in a statement.

Mr Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. The Yellow Jackets want Macron to respond to their concerns over sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

Attendance at Yellow Vest protests had been falling in recent weeks, but it is hard to assess where the movement is heading. He said police will use new tools, including drones and video surveillance, to help preventing violence and send rioters to trial. Around the country, the ministry estimated that 32,300 people protested, compared with 28,600 last week.

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The remaining protesters appear increasingly extreme, even as they sought to revive their movement Saturday by marking the end of a two-month-long national debate called by Macron that protesters say failed to answer their demands.

Saturday's turnout was seen a test of the ongoing strength of the movement, which began in November over fuel tax hikes and quickly ballooned into a rebellion against Macron's policies, seen by the protesters as geared towards the rich.

Over the weekend, violent protests broke out in areas of the French capital popular with tourists, including the Champs-Élysées, where demonstrators smashed dozens of popular storefronts, among them the high-end Fouquet's restaurant.

But critics have said that after more than three months of weekly protests, the government now needed to drastically rethink its approach for stamping out the rioting.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said he wanted to avoid repeating scenes that saw the Champs Elysees trashed amidst a crowd of 10,000.

On the Champs-Elysees, an eerie calm replaced the hours-long tear gas and arson chaos of the day before on the street that Parisians call "the most lovely avenue in the world".

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