As the Yellow Vests made their return by demonstrating in Paris, near the Arc de Triomphe, there were fewer demonstrators than at previous marches. According to French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, there were around 6000 demonstrators throughout France, including 2 500 in Paris.
At 6:20 pm, the Paris police headquarters declared that 256 arrests and at least 90 warnings had been issued by the police. Among them, 134 people were taken into custody, said the Paris prosecutor’s office.
Shops and metro stations in the vicinity had remained closed on Saturday. No violence or vandalism were reported in the morning, but the beginning of the afternoon was a little more lively. Agents provocateurs were spotted in the crowd.
Avec un tel comportement, c’est sûr, il n’a rien d’un gilet jaune. Rien ! https://t.co/RVZxTP2vgA
— Gilets Jaunes Paris #12Septembre (@GiletsJaunesGo) September 12, 2020
The police were also victims of their own actions since the wind blew the tear gas they had fired in their direction. Some demonstrators also took the opportunity to return the tear gas canisters fired at them, by kicking them back.
According to Gérald Darmanin, several demonstrators had been stopped with various weapons. Two vehicles were set alight and there were also dustbin fires.
During the afternoon, tensions increased as the demonstrators wanted to break through the blockade of the police to go to the Champs-Elysées, an avenue prohibited to the assembly.
In addition, a large police force had been set up in the capital. Police prefect Didier Lallement had banned any demonstration on the Champs-Elysées to avoid “chaos”. Two events were therefore prohibited from taking place there. “There is a concern for serenity on this avenue which is a showcase for our country. So I banned these demonstrations,” he commented during a press conference on Saturday morning. Therefore, only two marches were allowed, one starting from the Place de la Bourse, the other starting from the Place Wagram.
In the regions, several gatherings also took place. In Lyon there were around 500 protesters and in Marseille where they were around 200. In Marseille the demonstration of the Yellow Vests ended without incidents, but in Lyon the police had to intervene on several occasions, in particular to disperse the demonstrators by firing tear gas canisters.
Once the demonstrations were over, Gérald Darmanin sent out a message of support for the police on Twitter. Notably, while the Yellow Vests were arrested in large numbers, almost no one was stopped by the police during the illegal BLM-like protests in support of Adama Traoré.