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Angry French protesters start fires, clash with police over Macron gas tax hikes

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Firefighters extinguish burning material near The Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on November 24, 2018, during a rally by yellow vest protestors against rising oil prices and living costs. - Security forces in Paris fired tear gas and water cannon on November 24 to disperse protesters. Several thousand demonstrators, wearing high-visibility yellow jackets, had gathered on the avenue as part of protests which began on November 17, 2018. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Angry French protesters clashed with police as they flooded the nation’s capital Saturday to oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial fuel tax increase and call for his resignation.

What happened?

Saturday marked the eighth day of the nation's “yellow jacket” protests against the taxes. The protests have since grown into an overall anger toward the president and the French ruling class, Fox News reported. The yellow jackets, an item French drivers must keep in their vehicles, have become a symbol of the protests.

About 81,000 demonstrators turned out nationwide compared to 244,000 last Saturday. Around 8,000 people protested at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Demonstrators chanted “Macron resign” and set objects on fire to serve as a barricade around them. Tear gas and a water cannon were used by police to disperse the protesters, according to published reports. Thick black smoke filled the sky and the area had to be shut down.

Businesses in in the upscale tourist area La Madeleine closed their doors due to the protests.

One-hundred thirty people were arrested across France and 42 were detained in Paris. At least eight people, including two police officers, were injured, Fox News reported.

Protesters did not breached a no-go zone around the presidential palace and the National Assembly on the Left Bank of the Seine River, reports state.

Police created a barricade to prevent protesters from joining others at the Elysee Palace. Some of the protesters sang the national anthem as they demanded Macron's resignation.

The tax on gasoline is increasing by four euro cents, according to Fox News. Gasoline currently costs about 1.64 euros a liter in Paris ($7.06 a gallon), which is slightly more than diesel.

What has Macron said?

Macron’s approval ratings have fallen into the 20s in France as he struggles with an image of being an “out-of-touch elitist.”

In response, the French president has said he isn’t facing any midterm elections and plans to continue the same pace with his reforms.

Macron condemned protesters for bringing central Paris to a halt.

"Thank you to all our law enforcement, for their courage and professionalism. Shame on all the people who assaulted them," Macron wrote on Twitter. "Shame to those who voluntarily assaulted citizens and reporters. Shame on those who tried to intimidate our elected."

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