'Yellow Vest' Protests Grow Violent; Paris' L'Arc de Triomphe Defaced

Demonstrators throw back tear gas canisters at police during a protest of Yellow vests against rising oil prices and living costs on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris

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Protests in the centre of Paris in particular descended into chaos when cars and motorcycles were set alight, teargas was released to stop police containing the protest, and the Arc de Triomphe was vandalised.

Some demonstrators removed the barriers protecting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I under the Arc de Triomphe monument, to pose near its eternal flame and sing the national anthem.

A vandalized shop is seen on a street the morning after clashes between police and protesters wearing yellow vests, a symbol of a French drivers' protest against higher diesel taxes, in Paris, France, December 2, 2018.

Before heading into Sunday's meeting, Macron met under heavy security with police and firefighters near the Champs-Elysees.

A total of 133 had been injured during the riots.

The president said he would not accept violence and was ready to negotiate legitimate demands of the protesters.

Macron and key ministers were to meet later on Sunday to consider declaring an emergency to prevent a recurrence of the riots.

Meanwhile, a motorist died overnight after colliding with traffic which had built up due to a "yellow vest" anti-government protest in southern France, a local prosecutor said Sunday.

Hitherto, Macron has painted all protesters as violent. Instead retailers returned to clear up the mess.

The Champs Elysees itself was on lockdown, its glittering Christmas decorations standing in stark contrast to boarded-up storefronts and throngs of riot police manning the barricades and water cannon.

In response, police fired tear gas and used water cannons to push them back.

One person was in a critical condition after protesters pulled down one of the huge iron gates of the Tuileries garden facing the famed Louvre museum, crushing several people.

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A fire in the building caused damage.

At the base of the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe, police kept the public back as cleanup crews set about erasing graffiti, much of it targeting President Emmanuel Macron and some exuding anarchist sentiment such as, "Overthrow the bourgeoisie!"

Over the last few weeks, the "yellow vest" movement has morphed into a broad opposition front to Macron, a 40-year-old pro-business centrist elected in May 2017.

So too did Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of hard-left party La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who both demanded the government unwind its fuel tax hikes.

Numerous protesters are wearing the yellow fluorescent vests that French drivers keep in their cars.

"He gave us a lecture, and he didn't offer anything concrete", said one woman.

Macron, who is now in Argentina for the G20 summit, said earlier this week in a speech that he understood the complaints expressed by protesters but has so far refused to cancel the planned increased in fuel taxes.

He insists the tax cuts he has delivered for businesses and high-earners are necessary to lower the country's chronic high unemployment. "We aren't here to smash things, but the people have had enough".

France's Interior Ministry said mid-afternoon that 75,000 people were taking part in a third weekend of nationwide protests.

On Saturday November 17th on the first day of the yellow vest protests there were around 300,000 demonstrators out on the roads.

"Our responsibility is to ensure that everything goes as well as possible", Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said earlier while touring the forces on the avenue.

Ministers said that while no options had been ruled out, imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed during the talks - despite earlier reports.

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