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French police brace for 10th Yellow Vest Saturday protest

A Yellow Vest protester in Nantes, France, holds a French flag during an anti-government demonstration, January 12, 2019
A Yellow Vest protester in Nantes, France, holds a French flag during an anti-government demonstration, January 12, 2019 AFP/L. Venance

French police are mobilising for more yellow vest protests throughout the country on Saturday, after the ministry of the Interior said some 80,000 protesters came out last week, as the numbers of demonstrators continue to rise in the new year, but still below the 2018 crowd estimates.

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The yellow vests are also slated to demonstrate at Vieux-Port in Marseilles, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Roanne, Valence, Clermont,-Ferrand, Montélimar, Dijon, Nevers, Montceau-les-Mines, Toulon, Avignon, and Béziers.

The French government said it would be putting “a lot of security forces on the street” this weekend, while Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that there was “fewer and fewer people mobilizing.”

While those protesting have complained of excessive force by the police, press freedom groups have called for an end to the violence on the streets against journalists covering the story.

“Citizens have the right to protest, journalists to inform!” said Reporters Without Borders on Friday. It has started a petition to call for the Yellow Vests to refrain from attacking journalists. The petition has been signed by several news and photo agencies.

The presence of Yellow Vests on the street won’t be the only event, however.

President Emmanuel Macron has started his “Grand National Debate”, a series of town hall meetings across the country. Macron’s debates are focusing on four issues that the Yellow Vest movement has been protesting: purchasing power, taxation, democracy, and the environment.

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