PARIS — A fourth weekend of anti-government protests in France turned violent again Saturday, with demonstrators in Paris burning cars and ripping down barricades from storefronts, while the riot police fired tear gas and water cannons to control the crowds.
The Yellow Vests descended on the capital by the thousands, even as police turned out in force, blocking off roads and monuments.
Nearly 1,400 people were arrested nationwide. In Paris, many were detained before they could even reach the central site of the demonstrations along Paris’ main artery, the Champs-Élysées.
The huge police presence in the capital — absent last Saturday — appeared far more able to contain the violence. The show of force reflected a change from preceding weeks, with law enforcement engaging with the vandals before they could act.
“The situation is under control even though there are still some hot spots in the provinces,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Saturday evening.
The minister said 118 demonstrators and 17 police officers were injured nationwide Saturday. Last week, about 200 protesters were injured, as well as more than 200 police officers.
Since the demonstrations began four weeks ago, four people have died.
The Yellow Vests take their name from the fluorescent hazard vests adopted by the protesters as a sign of their economic distress.
Initially, their ranks were filled by members of the working poor from rural areas and urban outskirts, who were dismayed by a planned increase in a fuel tax, which the government canceled this past week in a retreat.
That did not quell the outrage, which has morphed into much broader anger at President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies, and France’s declining living standards.
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Macron would speak early next week to address the movement.
The president has been criticized for remaining silent about the protests.
Around the country, more than 125,000 people turned out for mostly peacefully demonstrations in cities including Marseille, Nice and Nantes, authorities said.
Later in the day, clashes broke out in Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Overall, the number of protesters nationwide has dwindled since more than 280,000 turned out the first weekend on Nov. 17, according to French authorities.