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Protesters in red scarves march against vandalism and violence in Paris

Damage to the Arc de Triomphe last month was said to be the catalyst for the event on Sunday.

A man with his hand wrapped in a red scarf takes part in the rally in Paris (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP)
A man with his hand wrapped in a red scarf takes part in the rally in Paris (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP)

People wearing red scarves have marched through Paris to protest against acts of violence and vandalism during the yellow vest anti-government demonstrations.

The demonstration came amid growing divisions around the yellow vest movement, which led to riots and exposed deep discontent with President Emmanuel Macron.

Damage to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in December was a turning point for many of the counter-protesters at Sunday’s march.

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A woman walks a dog wearing a red scarf during the rally in Paris (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP)

“We don’t share all the demands expressed by the yellow vest movement, for instance demands about overthrowing the government, brutalising institutions,” Laurent Segnis, a member of Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move party, said.

Others lamented their sense the movement that appeared in mid-November to be a grass roots response to a fuel tax is radicalising as it nears the end of a third month.

Ten people have died in road incidents since the protests started on November 17 last year, and about 2,000 people have been injured.

The weekly protests in Paris routinely descend into clashes between riot police and participants who throw rocks at officers and set fires in the streets.

The yellow vest movement, which includes people across France’s political spectrum, sees Macron’s government as favouring the wealthy.

Many movement supporters dismissed the red scarves as Macron stooges, though the president’s party did not officially take part in the counter-demonstrations.

Some 69,000 people nationwide took part Saturday in the 11th week of yellow vest protests, down from more than 80,000 during the previous two weekends, according to the French Interior Ministry.

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Protesters rally in Paris (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP)

The protests in Paris were scattered, with different groups staging events at different sites.

On Sunday, French police were investigating how a prominent yellow vest protester, Jerome Rodrigues, suffered an eye injury in Paris.

Video images show Rodriguez collapsed on the ground Saturday near the Bastille monument, where protesters throwing projectiles clashed with police seeking to disperse them.

Police armed with guns that fire non-lethal rubber balls – ammunition that has seriously injured a number of demonstrators – were equipped with body cameras this weekend for the first time.

Officials said the cameras were being used as an experiment to record use of the non-lethal weapons, providing context and eventual evidence if needed.

PA

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