Baton-wielding police batter French yellow vest protesters as violence breaks out at 20th week of demonstrations

French ‘yellow vest’ demonstrators clashed with baton-wielding riot police during the 20th consecutive week of anti-government protests despite bans in hotspot areas.

The Gilet Jaunes took to the streets for a protest dubbed ‘Act 20’ as banks called for an end to violence against branches, cash machines and personnel. 

Iconic sites such as the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris and the centre of Bordeaux, in southwestern France, were declared off limits to demonstrations, with police enforcing the bans in the areas. 

In the southern French town of Avignon, violence erupted as police with riot shields and batons forced protesters out of the narrow streets of the medieval city centre.   

Officers had struggled the previous weekend to contain violence by highly-organised demonstrators who smashed shop windows and set fire to newspaper kiosks and a bank in the capital. 

A 'yellow vest' protester holds a French flag reading 'The ongoing revolution. Stop the dictatorship' as firefighters spray water to extinguish a burning barricade during another demonstration today

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A ‘yellow vest’ protester holds a French flag reading ‘The ongoing revolution. Stop the dictatorship’ as firefighters spray water to extinguish a burning barricade during another demonstration today

There were flames in France again today, as a burning barricade was set up along a road in Bordeaux. The 'yellow vest' movement - so-called after the protesters' high-visibility jackets - began nationwide five months ago over fuel taxes but quickly grew into a broader wave of protests

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There were flames in France again today, as a burning barricade was set up along a road in Bordeaux. The ‘yellow vest’ movement – so-called after the protesters’ high-visibility jackets – began nationwide five months ago over fuel taxes but quickly grew into a broader wave of protests

Anti-riot gendarmes stand behind burning barricades during clashes with 'yellow vest" protesters at a demonstration in Bordeaux today

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Anti-riot gendarmes stand behind burning barricades during clashes with ‘yellow vest’ protesters at a demonstration in Bordeaux today 

A barricade is created with burning bins during a yellow vest protest in Bordeaux today. Protestors can be seen in the background as the bins catch fire

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A barricade is created with burning bins during a yellow vest protest in Bordeaux today. Protestors can be seen in the background as the bins catch fire  

One of the yellow vest protesters stands on a raised platform in front of the Eiffel Tower and waves the tricolour flag of France

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One of the yellow vest protesters stands on a raised platform in front of the Eiffel Tower and waves the tricolour flag of France 

Police line the streets with their shields today as French yellow vest demonstrators stage their 20th week of anti-government protests

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Police line the streets with their shields today as French yellow vest demonstrators stage their 20th week of anti-government protests

French riot police officers raise their shields and lift their batons into the air as they are left tackling some protesters who became violent on the streets of Avignon

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French riot police officers raise their shields and lift their batons into the air as they are left tackling some protesters who became violent on the streets of Avignon

A protester breaks a cash machine on the sidelines of a demonstration as part of a 20th consecutive Saturday of protests called by the 'yellow vests' (pictured in Avignon, southeastern France)

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A protester breaks a cash machine on the sidelines of a demonstration as part of a 20th consecutive Saturday of protests called by the ‘yellow vests’ (pictured in Avignon, southeastern France)

In other scenes some protesters, dressed in black and covering their faces, are seen clashing with the French police in Avignon, France

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In other scenes some protesters, dressed in black and covering their faces, are seen clashing with the French police in Avignon, France

The 'yellow vest' movement, so-called after the protesters' high-visibility jackets, began nationwide five months ago over fuel taxes but grew into a broader wave to protest against President Macron's policies

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The ‘yellow vest’ movement, so-called after the protesters’ high-visibility jackets, began nationwide five months ago over fuel taxes but grew into a broader wave to protest against President Macron’s policies

French riot police officers run along a street in Avignon, France, today as demonstrations turn violent and some protesters clash with the authorities. In Bordeaux, residents were urged to stay indoors as clashes broke out in the city

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French riot police officers run along a street in Avignon, France, today as demonstrations turn violent and some protesters clash with the authorities. In Bordeaux, residents were urged to stay indoors as clashes broke out in the city

A protester wearing a mask across his face clashes with French riot police during the 'Act XX' demonstration in Avignon, south-east France

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A protester wearing a mask across his face clashes with French riot police during the ‘Act XX’ demonstration in Avignon, south-east France

A protester places his hands at the back of his head as he faces anti-riot police in Bordeaux, western France, today on the 20th day of demonstrations

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A protester places his hands at the back of his head as he faces anti-riot police in Bordeaux, western France, today on the 20th day of demonstrations

Anti-riot policemen gather during clashes with the protesters at a demonstration in Bordeaux, western France. A yellow gas leaks from a canister on a tramway

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Anti-riot policemen gather during clashes with the protesters at a demonstration in Bordeaux, western France. A yellow gas leaks from a canister on a tramway

There were more demonstrations in Paris today, where the riots first started several months ago. Protestors are pictured with the eiffel tower in the background

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There were more demonstrations in Paris today, where the riots first started several months ago. Protestors are pictured with the eiffel tower in the background 

Protesters march past the Saint-Laurent church in Paris today. The presidential Elysee palace and the National Assembly were cordoned off by police in the capital ahead of the protest

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Protesters march past the Saint-Laurent church in Paris today. The presidential Elysee palace and the National Assembly were cordoned off by police in the capital ahead of the protest

Thousands of yellow vests marched peacefully in the streets of Paris, from north of the city center through the Left Bank to the Trocadero plaza near the Eiffel Tower. Some waved a rainbow flag that read ‘Peace,’ same as the one that Legay was carrying in last week’s protest.

The French capital was placed under high security and protests were banned around the grand Champs-Elysees avenue, the scene of past yellow vest riots. Paris police said 32 people were detained and 21 fined for taking part in an unauthorised protest.

The presidential Elysee palace and the National Assembly were also cordoned off by police.

President Emmanuel Macron has reacted to the Saturday protests, which began last November, by embarking on a cross-country tour as part of a ‘Great National Debate’ aimed at encouraging disgruntled citizens to express themselves through a structured dialogue.

The protests began in rural France on November 17 over fuel tax increases and quickly ballooned into a full-scale anti-government rebellion.

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In recent weeks, the protesters’ numbers have dwindled but those still on the streets appear more determined.

At today’s clashes, the protesters said they were showing solidarity with Genevieve Legay, a 73-year-old anti-globalisation activist who suffered a head injury in the southern city of Nice last weekend. The Nice prosecutor said a police officer pushed her down.

‘We are all Genevieve!’ read an online appeal for Saturday’s protests.

French riot police are left removing one protester from the streets as the demonstrations across France become violent (pictured, Avignon)

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French riot police are left removing one protester from the streets as the demonstrations across France become violent (pictured, Avignon) 

One protester is dragged by French riot police from the demonstrations in Avignon, France, as chaos erupts across the city

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One protester is dragged by French riot police from the demonstrations in Avignon, France, as chaos erupts across the city

Anti-riot police officers walk behind Yellow Vest demonstrators  during the 20th consecutive Saturday of protests in Bordeaux, western France

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Anti-riot police officers walk behind Yellow Vest demonstrators  during the 20th consecutive Saturday of protests in Bordeaux, western France

A protester's placards read 'Castaner, the real violence is 9million poor people' and 'he who does not have the courage to rebel does not have the rights lament,' next to a picture of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara

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A protester’s placards read ‘Castaner, the real violence is 9million poor people’ and ‘he who does not have the courage to rebel does not have the rights lament,’ next to a picture of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara

Police stand guard in Bordeaux, western France, as Yellow Vest protesters walk through the city's streets in their hundreds

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Police stand guard in Bordeaux, western France, as Yellow Vest protesters walk through the city’s streets in their hundreds

Protesters from the 'Gilets Jaunes' (Yellow Vest) movement hold flags and picket signs as they walk along a street in Paris today

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Protesters from the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vest) movement hold flags and picket signs as they walk along a street in Paris today

A woman wearing metallic-coloured make-up and a Phrygian cap stares at an anti-riot police officer during a demonstration in Bordeaux, western France

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A woman wearing metallic-coloured make-up and a Phrygian cap stares at an anti-riot police officer during a demonstration in Bordeaux, western France

Women wearing Phrygian caps hold a placard reading 'Free yourself! Join us!' in Bordeaux, western France, as anti-riot police stand guard

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Women wearing Phrygian caps hold a placard reading ‘Free yourself! Join us!’ in Bordeaux, western France, as anti-riot police stand guard

Yellow vest protesters stand behind a large banner as the French capital witnesses yet another week of protests on its streets

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Yellow vest protesters stand behind a large banner as the French capital witnesses yet another week of protests on its streets

Determined Yellow Vest protesters walk along the streets of the French capital as demonstrations continue across the country

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Determined Yellow Vest protesters walk along the streets of the French capital as demonstrations continue across the country

A mass congregation of Yellow vest protesters gather in front of the train station during the 20th consecutive national protest in Bordeaux, France

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A mass congregation of Yellow vest protesters gather in front of the train station during the 20th consecutive national protest in Bordeaux, France

A protester wearing a luchador mask and dressed in a blue jumper raises his arms while holding the French flag at the Gare de L'Est in Paris where around 300 demonstrators had gathered

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A protester wearing a luchador mask and dressed in a blue jumper raises his arms while holding the French flag at the Gare de L’Est in Paris where around 300 demonstrators had gathered

An anti-riot policeman in Bordeaux holds a non-lethal, hand-held weapon called an LBD40. The weapon replaced the old-style 'flash-ball' in France but it is still widely called it

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An anti-riot policeman in Bordeaux holds a non-lethal, hand-held weapon called an LBD40. The weapon replaced the old-style ‘flash-ball’ in France but it is still widely called it

A Gilet Jaunes protester sits on top of the Le Matin statue during Act 20 - the 20th consecutive protest against Macron's economic policies

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A Gilet Jaunes protester sits on top of the Le Matin statue during Act 20 – the 20th consecutive protest against Macron’s economic policies 

Demonstrators take pictures of a statue called Le Matin, or The Morning, after they places an yellow vest on it in Trocadero Square, Paris

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Demonstrators take pictures of a statue called Le Matin, or The Morning, after they places an yellow vest on it in Trocadero Square, Paris

Initial reports at midday Saturday said that around 300 demonstrators had gathered at the Paris Gare de l’Est train station and the Paris prefecture said two demonstrations and four gatherings had been organised – with one march to end near the Eiffel Tower.

But the French Interior Ministry stated that there had been a significant decline in the number of protesters this Saturday.

At 2pm, the office said they had counted 5,600 protesters nationwide, down from 8,300 last week, as well as a drop from 3,100 to 1,800 yellow vests in Paris, according to Euronews.

The figures released by the government has been repeatedly disputed by the yellow vest protesters. 

‘It is still the same goal, social justice and the RIC (citizen initiated referendum), especially when there are economic choices to be made,’ said a 43-year-old demonstrator who gave his first name as Jean-Edouard. 

The French banking federation called for an end to attacks during yellow vest protests, saying that more than 760 banks have suffered damage since the movement began last year.

Banks have often been the targets of vandalism and arson during the protests, and last week 11 people were injured when a Banque Tarneaud branch was set on fire near the Champs Elysees.

‘We must quickly put a stop to this unbridled and unjustified violence,’ the federation said in comments published in the daily Le Monde.

French police clash with protesters from the yellow vest movement as demonstrations continue in several cities across France (pictured, Avignon)

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French police clash with protesters from the yellow vest movement as demonstrations continue in several cities across France (pictured, Avignon) 

Anti-riot police in Bordeaux, western France, point non-lethal hand-held weapons (LBD40) towards protesters during yet another weekend of demonstrations

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Anti-riot police in Bordeaux, western France, point non-lethal hand-held weapons (LBD40) towards protesters during yet another weekend of demonstrations

Yellow vest protesters clash with anti-riot police in Bordeaux as demonstrations continue across the country for a 20th consecutive week

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Yellow vest protesters clash with anti-riot police in Bordeaux as demonstrations continue across the country for a 20th consecutive week

Some protesters from the Yellow Vest movement clash with French riot police in Avignon, France, as demonstrations turn violent in some areas

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Some protesters from the Yellow Vest movement clash with French riot police in Avignon, France, as demonstrations turn violent in some areas

In Avignon, France, some demonstrators take to the streets to challenge the authorities and clash with police. In recent weeks the police have struggled to contain violence by highly-organised demonstrators

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In Avignon, France, some demonstrators take to the streets to challenge the authorities and clash with police. In recent weeks the police have struggled to contain violence by highly-organised demonstrators

As a tear gas canister is set off in Avignon, southeastern France a protester is left to shield their mouth and escape the scene during the 20th consecutive Saturday of protests

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As a tear gas canister is set off in Avignon, southeastern France a protester is left to shield their mouth and escape the scene during the 20th consecutive Saturday of protests 

A protester lifts up a can emitting yellow smoke as Yellow Vest protesters take to the streets of Paris, France for yet another weekend of demonstrations

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A protester lifts up a can emitting yellow smoke as Yellow Vest protesters take to the streets of Paris, France for yet another weekend of demonstrations

A protester covers his face as he breaks a cash machine during yet another weekend of protests in Avignon, southeastern France

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A protester covers his face as he breaks a cash machine during yet another weekend of protests in Avignon, southeastern France

Riot police officers stand guard as yellow vest protesters try and rally support for a woman who was injured in a confrontation with police in Paris

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Riot police officers stand guard as yellow vest protesters try and rally support for a woman who was injured in a confrontation with police in Paris

Anti-riot policemen stand guard in full uniform as Yellow Vest protesters congregate in Bordeaux, western France, on the 20th week of protests

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Anti-riot policemen stand guard in full uniform as Yellow Vest protesters congregate in Bordeaux, western France, on the 20th week of protests

Anti-riot police face protesters in Bordeaux, western France, as demonstrators take to the streets for the 20th consecutive Saturday

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Anti-riot police face protesters in Bordeaux, western France, as demonstrators take to the streets for the 20th consecutive Saturday

Police officers block people as they try to walk through the city centre of Avignon, France, during yet another day of protests in the city

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Police officers block people as they try to walk through the city centre of Avignon, France, during yet another day of protests in the city

Yellow vest protesters gather at the Gare de L'Est in Paris as the country sees yet another day of demonstrations by the movement

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Yellow vest protesters gather at the Gare de L’Est in Paris as the country sees yet another day of demonstrations by the movement

With the Paris authorities clamping down, regional protests came into focus, with protests bans in other city centres, including Avignon, Lille and Toulouse.

Lille officials offered demonstrators an alternative path however.

People who take part in unauthorised demonstrations risk an increased fine of 135 euros ($150).

In Bordeaux, where violent clashes have broken during previous protests, the Mayor Nicolas Florian shut down the city after authorities warned of the possible arrival of ‘hundreds of thugs’.

Residents were urged to stay indoors to avoid unintended clashes with police.

A demonstration was planned in the Mediterranean city of Nice, where a 73-year-old activist was injured last week after she was pushed by police and hit her head while falling. 

Demonstrators take pictures next to a statue titled 'Le Matin' as French yellow vest protesters rallying to support an older woman activist injured in a confrontation with police in Paris' Trocadero Square

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Demonstrators take pictures next to a statue titled ‘Le Matin’ as French yellow vest protesters rallying to support an older woman activist injured in a confrontation with police in Paris’ Trocadero Square

Customers sitting in nearby cafe's were left watching the Yellow Vest protesters walk down the streets of Paris today

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Customers sitting in nearby cafe’s were left watching the Yellow Vest protesters walk down the streets of Paris today

Yellow vest protesters congregate near the Eiffel Tower in Paris after an activist is injured in a confrontation with police

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Yellow vest protesters congregate near the Eiffel Tower in Paris after an activist is injured in a confrontation with police

Hundreds of protesters from the Yellow Vest movement were seen walking in Paris, France, today as local authorities declared iconic sites such as the Champs Elysees avenue were off limits to demonstrations

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Hundreds of protesters from the Yellow Vest movement were seen walking in Paris, France, today as local authorities declared iconic sites such as the Champs Elysees avenue were off limits to demonstrations

A yellow vest protesters hold the French flag as he looks out to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In the French capital demonstrators were rallying to support an older woman activist injured in a confrontation with police

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A yellow vest protesters hold the French flag as he looks out to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In the French capital demonstrators were rallying to support an older woman activist injured in a confrontation with police

A yellow vest protester holds the French flag in his arms as demonstrators pass him through the streets of Paris today

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A yellow vest protester holds the French flag in his arms as demonstrators pass him through the streets of Paris today

Yellow vest protesters walk next to the Eiffel Tower as they try and rallying support for the activist injured in a confrontation with police on Saturday

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Yellow vest protesters walk next to the Eiffel Tower as they try and rallying support for the activist injured in a confrontation with police on Saturday

Police had initially insisted that no officer pushed the woman, but rectified that position following an internal investigation.

Last Saturday, 40,500 people demonstrated across France according to police while yellow vest sources put the figure at more than 127,000.

Last week, Macron continued to meet with mayors as part of regional tours linked to the national debate.

He is scheduled to end the tour Thursday on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

DAILY MAIL

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