The Yellow Vest protests in France began in November as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron's gas tax hikes. The grassroots movement appears to be fizzling out but some are trying to ignite protestors again. During their 18th consecutive weekend of protestors, Yellow Vests set fires and started riots on Paris’ landmark Champs-Elysees Avenue, the Associated Press reported.
Protest leaders chose Saturday to cause a seen because it marked the fourth consecutive month of the movement, which began on November 17th. The Yellow Jackets want Macron to respond to their concerns over sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.
French police appeared caught off guard by the sudden burst of outrage. Yellow Vests threw smoke bombs and other objects at police, Fox News reported. They had to use tear gas and water cannons against protests but were not successful.
"Gangs are targeting police, and carrying out numerous acts of vandalism," an officer at the scene told The Daily Mail. "Fires are being lit, including in cars. Thousands are arriving all over the city, and we are already extremely stretched."
A bank on the ground level of a residential building was targeted. Rescuers had to evacuate people on the remaining six floors of the building. A mother and child almost didn't make it out as flames engulfed their floor. In all, nine building evacuees and two firefighters sustained minor injuries.
Protestors targeted banks as well as luxury shops and high-end boutiques.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner estimated "10,000 yellow vest protesters were in Paris and another 4,500 protesters were demonstrating around France. He also said the crowd included 1,500 'ultraviolent ones who are there to smash things up,'" the AP reported.
Yellow Vests say their protests will continue "indefinitely" as they "campaign for even more concessions," The Daily Mail reported.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified protestors as “Yellow Jackets.”