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Hundreds detained in fourth week of Paris anti-government protests

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Police use water canons, rubber bullets, tear gas to disperse crowd

BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

Protesters and French police clashed in Paris on Saturday, marking the fourth weekend of protests against President Emmanuel Macron's government and his economic policies.

What was the scene?

Several thousand protesters, mostly male and wearing the yellow safety vests that have come to symbolize the movement, gathered at the Champs-Elysees monument around midday in Paris. Some of the protesters set cars and tires on fire while others smashed up a café.

Police used water cannons in a bid to disperse the crowd, threw "hundreds of canisters of tear gas" at demonstrators, and fired rubber bullets at the protesters, CNN reported. An estimated 475 people were arrested and at least 30 were wounded, including three police officers.

"A policeman shot at me with a rubber bullet even though my press arm band was showing," French radio reporter Boris Kharlamoff wrote on Twitter. "It hurts but it's alright. Colleagues be careful on the Champs-Elysees."

Unlike previous protests, riot police outnumbered demonstrators by about two-to-one, CNN reported.

President Donald Trump weighed in on the so-called "gilets jaunes" protests, a movement against an eco-tax on gas. He said the demonstrations illustrate why he didn't sign the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

"The Paris Agreement isn't working out so well for Paris," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting 'We Want Trump!' Love France."

Anything else?

In anticipation of more violence, high-end shops in Paris closed on what should have been a busy shopping day before Christmas. Monuments such as the Eiffel Tower were closed.

Serge Mairesse, a 62-year-old retired Air France worker from Aubervilliers, just north of Paris, told The Wall Street Journal he wanted to reach the Elysee Palace to "register his anger" over the "government's antisocial policies."

"Macron taxes the poor and gives to the rich," Mairesse told the news outlet. "It's totally unfair. The rich don't even know what to do with their money anymore."

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