PARIS, France (PNN) - March 3, 2019 - Violence erupted on the streets of France for the 16th weekend in a row as yellow vests protested against government economic policies they see as favoring the rich.
Protesters set fire to bins and threw smoke bombs as they clashed with terrorist pig thug cops who used tear gas to control crowds.
Demonstrators wore red hoodies with the tricolor cockade - an emblem of the French Revolution - and stood with their mouths taped shut.
Crowds gathered at the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris as a march was planned through the affluent neighborhoods of the capital.
It comes as French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday reiterated a call for calm, pointing at “unacceptable” outbreaks of violence since the movement began in November.
Organizers say they want to maintain pressure on the government as a two-month “grand debate” initiated by Macron to let ordinary French people express their views on the country's economic and democratic issues is ending this month.
It follows months of continual unrest, including riots that saw the Arc de Triomphe and other public monuments attacked, with shops looted and set on fire.
Sophie Tissier, a coordinator of the Paris protest, said, “We keep protesting every Saturday because Macron doesn't respond at all to the yellow vests' demands. We want to rebuild our democracy and change today's political system.”
“Macron is contemptuous and does not even try to understand that there are people that are living in great poverty and precariousness, and that there are so many inequalities,” she added.
Other protests are taking place in France's major cities of Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille and others.
The movement was named after the fluorescent vests that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.
The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes, but have expanded into a broader public rejection of Macron's economic policies, which protesters say favor big businesses and the wealthy over ordinary workers.
Macron has since announced a package of measures worth about 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) to boost workers' and retirees' purchasing power, and launched a national debate that is taking place through meetings across France and a dedicated website until mid-March.
Many yellow vests reject the debate, which they consider as politically driven to serve the government's interests.
Support for the movement has ebbed in recent weeks as it has splintered and outbreaks of violence continue.
Last weekend, the extremist views of some protesters erupted in a torrent of anti-Semitic insults hurled at noted philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the sidelines of a Paris protest. The assault came days after the French government reported a huge rise in incidents of anti-Semitism last year.
Today's ugly scenes are typical of those that have regularly reduced Paris and other towns and cities to a war zone.
The yellow vest activists, who have brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets over the past three months are now trying to achieve electoral success, but the movement is politically divided and has no appointed leader.
Macron - the target of many demonstrators' anger - seems to be clawing back support as he tries to quell the movement with a national political debate. Recent polls show Macron's approval ratings rising.
Several competing groups of yellow vests are getting ready to present candidates for the European Parliament election in May, while other figures insist the movement must remain non-political.
Around 69,000 people nationwide took part in French protests last month, down from more than 80,000 the previous two weekends, according to the French Interior Ministry.