1m Protester killed during French fuel demonstration

1m Protester killed during French fuel demonstration

Kerry Wise
November 19, 2018

The protesters are nicknamed "yellow vests" for the high-visibility jackets they wear.

"We're showing that the French do not support their government's policies", said Franck Deroo, a 47-year-old electrician at a blockade on a highway near the Belgian border in Neuville-en-Ferrain, northern France.

The upstart movement behind the weekend protests represents middle-class citizens and those with fewer means who rely on their cars to get to work.

Riot police used tear gas to drive protesters away from the residence of President Emmanuel Macron last night after a day of rage against the government in which more than a quarter of a million people blocked roads at more than 2,300 points across the country from Brittany in the west to the Côte d'Azur in the south.

The French authorities have not given a breakdown about how they were injured, but said three are in a serious condition in hospital.

The protesters say they are being squeezed by years of fuel tax increases that have driven prices to levels not seen since the early 2000s.

But one woman was killed when a mother trying to bring her daughter to the doctor panicked when protesters surrounded their auto and began banging on the roof, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Castaner said a handful of other injuries had been reported in other areas, including a police officer in the southern city of Grasse outside Nice, by drivers trying to force a way through the blockades.

According to various French media reports, others reportedly knocked on her vehicle as she tried to take her daughter to a hospital. Officials said that 24 people have been detained and 17 held for questioning.

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Some 288,000 people took part in Saturday's protests, the ministry said, with scores under way on Sunday.

By evening, 1200 protesters remained in the Place "protected by police", the Interior Ministry said.

Prices have eased this month, although protestors on Saturday had other complaints too, as Macron's next test at the ballot box in European parliamentary elections in May 2019 looms.

Macron wants to close the gap between the price of diesel fuel and gasoline as part of his strategy to wean France off fossil fuels. A "carbon trajectory" calls for continued increases, particularly on diesel.

She said the price of diesel, for example, had risen 23% in the past 12 months. Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency they view as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich.

Macron's popularity has plunged, hovering around 30 percent.

"We've had enough of it".

In Paris, protesters holding "Macron resign!" signs and singing the national anthem partially blocked the Champs Elysees in the heart of the French capital.