Yellow vest protesters march via French cities after Macron gov't hardens stance

The boxer punching a police officer

The boxer punching a police officer

One of the officers is then beaten by other protesters wearing yellow vests before he is rescued by fellow riot police in protective equipment and helmets. "Everyone must assume their responsibilities: this fund is shameful", he added. "I've made a decision to step away from the national debate because it will be hard to ensure the calm that's needed for the talks", she said.

The fundraising website Leetchi initially defended its hosting of the appeal, saying that as a platform it was required to remain "neutral".

Numerous "yellow vest" demonstrators are demanding that centrist President Emmanuel Macron resign, a call dismissed as undemocratic by the government.

Mr Dettinger claimed he, his wife and a friend were tear-gassed and became angry when he saw police using similar tactics against pensioners and "hurting people with flash balls (rubber bullets)".

The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement - named after the hi-vis jackets worn by protesters - began in November as a revolt against the imposition of a fuel tax, but has morphed into a nationwide movement against the government and the pro-business, centrist Macron, who is accused of favouring the rich and maintaining an unfair tax system.

He also announced plans to ban known "troublemakers" from taking part in demonstrations, in the same way known football hooligans in the past had been banned from stadiums.

Last Saturday, protesters used a construction vehicle to smash open the doors of the building housing the ministry of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

The twice national light-heavyweight champion was caught on camera jumping over the railings of a pedestrian bridge blocked by baton-wielding police before swinging blows at two officers, forcing them to retreat.

The government said that a new set-up would be announced ahead of Macron's proposed letter to the French people next Tuesday about why the debate was needed.

"Yellow vests, do not weaken!"

It broadened to include issues involving families' struggle to make ends meet, with calls for higher wages, lower taxes, better pensions and easier university entry requirements.

While the number of protesters has dwindled since December, the determination of a smaller but increasingly radical core of "yellow vest" protesters poses a dilemma for the government.

Another major demonstration has been called for Saturday, this time in Bourges, central France, instead of the capital.

Once Europe's rising star, Macron is now fighting to save his image and his vision for transforming France's welfare state and economic model.

The demonstrations shaking France since mid-November had further dented Macron's standing at the end of past year, with his popularity dropping to record lows amid a backlash that started out as an outcry over planned fuel tax hikes.

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