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Chaos in Paris as rioters torch cars, smash windows; French President Macron plans emergency meeting

Protesters walk by burning cars during clashes with riot police on the sideline of a protest of Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) against rising oil prices and living costs, on December 1, 2018 in Paris. (ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris police said 412 people were arrested and at least 133 were injured and as protesters ripped through city streets in the capital over the weekend in what is being called the one of the "worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968," according to Reuters news.

What happened?

The protesters, upset with increasing taxes and the high cost of living, rioted Saturday in one of the city’s most popular tourist areas, according to published reports. Activists torched cars, banks and houses; smashed windows, looted stores, threw rocks at police and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti. A website for the monument stated Sunday that it is "closed until further notice."

Police used with tear gas and a water cannon to disperse protesters and closed down "dozens of streets and Metro stations to contain the riot,” the Associated Press reported.

On Sunday morning, city employees began cleaning up the damages, including graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe, the Associated Press reported. Nearby streets were filled with debris and burned cars.

French President Emmanuel Macron planned to hold an emergency security meeting Sunday with his prime minister and interior minister. Macron, who has returned to his country from the G-20 summit meeting in Argentina, told media that those responsible for the violence and the damages will be held accountable.

On Sunday morning, Paris crews began cleaning up the shells of burnt cars sitting on scorched pavement,according to reports.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux did not rule out imposing a state of emergency, something two police unions support. All possible options are expected to be considered.

What else did Macron say?

Speaking from the G20 meeting in Argentina, Macron said he would “never accept violence.”

He added: “No cause justifies that security forces are attacked, shops pillaged, public or private buildings set on fire, pedestrians or journalists threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is sullied.”

The president said the peaceful demonstrators concerns are legitimate and he would hear their “anger."

Of the more than 400 arrested, 300 were still in police custody on Sunday, according to The Guardian. One protester is in a coma.

“Slogans painted along Paris’s most expensive streets on Saturday slammed the young, centrist, pro-business president as a symbol of an elite cut off from the people,” The Guardian reported.

About 5,000 peaceful demonstrators marched down the Champs Élysées on Saturday. Some carried roses while others shouted, “Macron, resign!”  and sang the national anthem, according to the Guardian.

The protest turned violent after groups of "masked men" appeared and began causing damage, the report states.

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