French yellow vest march has lukewarm relaunch after virus

PARIS (AP) — Activists staged a lukewarm relaunch of France’s yellow vest movement for economic justice Saturday after the disruptive demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron and his government’s perceived elitism tapered off during the coronavirus pandemic.

But French media reported a lower turnout than expected, with around only 1,000 demonstrators in two marches in the French capital, compared to tens of thousands in the beginning of the two-year-old movement.

Paris police said more than 200 people were stopped and over 25 were detained, with some small clashes with police who fired tear gas. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted his “support for the authorities who are stopping the violent troublemakers.”

Authorities designated areas such as the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris off-limits, and parts of the Paris metro along the famed avenue were temporarily closed.

The yellow vest movement began in the fall of 2018 to protest a fuel tax hike that was said to punish the poorest people in the country. Named for the florescent vests that motorists are required to carry in France, it morphed into more than a year of weekly anti-government protests that caused multiple deaths and hundreds of injuries.

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