Protests turned violent as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Protesters threw rocks and set up barricades.
Protesters torched a branch of the Tarneaud bank, a spokesperson for Paris firefighters said. Firefighters evacuated the building and put out the blaze.
On the Champs-Élysées, stores and restaurant windows were shattered and a newspaper stand was set on fire. Fouquet’s, the restaurant where former President Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his election in May 2007, was among the vandalized establishments.
The restaurant’s windows were smashed and its insides wrecked. Protesters used spray paint to write “Sarkozy has broken everything” on the restaurant’s outside wall.
“No doubt: they are calling for violence and are here to wreak havoc,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner tweeted Saturday as the clashes unfolded. “Professionals of damage and disorder, equipped and masked, have infiltrated the protests. My instruction to the police: respond very firmly to these unacceptable attacks.”
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