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Donald Trump throws his support behind Paris 'yellow vest' protests

08 December 2018

Police used pepper spray and scuffled with a small group of protesters who tried to break through their barricade blocking access to the European Parliament and the European Union's other main institutions.

Several thousand protesters, mostly male and wearing the yellow safety vests that have come to symbolize the movement, gathered at the Champs-Elysees monument around midday in Paris. Out of the media spotlight, Macron met Friday night with riot police being deployed in Paris Saturday.

While some protesters want to see the reversal of tax cuts they believe to favour the rich, others say they want measures to be introduced to support the poorest in society. Anti-government yellow vest rallies also took place in nearby Belgium and the Netherlands.

Among them were dozens arrested for carrying masks, hammers, slingshots and rocks that could be used to attack police.

In anticipation of more violence, high-end shops in Paris closed on what should have been a busy shopping day before Christmas.

Last weekend's violence, in which 200 cars were torched and the Arc de Triomphe vandalised, shook France and plunged Macron's government into its deepest crisis so far.

"We know that the violent people are only strong because they hide themselves within the yellow vests, which hampers the security forces", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Saturday.

Mr Macron, who has not spoken in public since he condemned last Saturday's disturbances while at the G20 summit in Argentina, will address the nation early next week, his office said.

Trump's claims about the situation in France have little connection to what's actually going on in the French capital, and Kirk seems to have gotten his information from a viral video that was actually shot at another right-wing protest - in London.

Over 89,000 police were deployed across France on Saturday, 8,000 of them centred in Paris.

The Louvre museum, the Orsay museum, the two operas and the Grand Palais are among the sites that will be closed, according to Riester.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday postponed a proposed hike in the country's tax on gas and diesel fuel, meant to encourage more usage of electric vehicles, but it doesn't seem to have derailed the protests.

But the yellow vests, some of whom who have become increasingly radicalised, are holding out for more.

In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, a few hundred protesters in the high-visibility vests walked peacefully across the Erasmus Bridge singing and handing flowers to passers-by.

Macron's decision early in his presidency to slash taxes on France's wealthiest is particularly unpopular with the protesters.

But Macron's office has said he will stick to his decision to cut a "fortune tax" on high-earners, abolished a year ago in a bid to boost investment.

Reuters A protestor clashes with French Gendarmes in Paris.

High taxes in France have been the source of discontent and unrest among French residents. Angry protesters on Saturday tried to rip the boards off.

Shops have been looted and vandalised and hundreds have been injured in the clashes which began on November 17 over record prices of fuel.

"It's with an vast sadness that we'll see our city partially brought to a halt, but your safety is our priority", Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said. "Take care of Paris on Saturday because Paris belongs to all the French people".

Donald Trump throws his support behind Paris 'yellow vest' protests