Anti-government protesters gained new allies Monday as French paramedics and students joined rallies while the prime minister met with political rivals in a bid to ease the anger following riots that rocked Paris.
Facing the most serious crisis since his election in May 2017, President Emmanuel Macron remained silent but met with police officers to offer them support after “a day of unprecedented violence,” the Élysée palace said.
On Saturday, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in the French capital amid one of the worst waves of unrest in the country in recent years. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, closing down dozens of streets and subway stations to contain the riot.
The “yellow vest” or “yellow jacket” movement — led by protesters wearing the distinctively coloured roadside safety garb used by motorists — is bringing together people from across the political spectrum complaining about France’s economic inequalities and waning spending power.
More protests took place on Monday in Paris as dozens of ambulances blocked a bridge leading to the National Assembly. Lines of riot police stood in the rain to prevent them from getting too close to the building.
The paramedics who joined the demonstrations are complaining about changes to working conditions. Students opposing education reforms also joined in, blocking dozens of high schools across France, according to French media reports.
Clashes between protesters and police officers took place again Monday on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, where demonstrations have been particularly violent in recent weeks.
Macron, just back from the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, held an emergency meeting Sunday on security. The government hasn’t ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.