Thousands of “yellow vest” demonstrators have marched in Paris and other French cities, clashing with police on the 11th consecutive weekend of action against the government.
Some 69,000 people have taken to the streets, according to official estimates, down from an estimated 84,000 demonstrators across the country last Saturday.
Marches were mostly peaceful but there were incidents in several towns, including Paris, where an eye injury to a “yellow vest” activist added to recent controversy over police violence.
The protesters – who wear the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to carry in their cars – came out onto the streets in November to oppose a planned fuel tax rise introduced to combat climate change.
Their movement then developed into a broader revolt against the government that mobilised tens of thousands each weekend.
In Paris, small groups of protesters at Bastille Square formed makeshift barriers, lit fires and threw projectiles at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons, television footage showed.
The police said they made 52 arrests in Paris.
In the southwest, brief clashes also took place in Bordeaux and Toulouse.
“I condemn as firmly as possible the violence and damage caused again this Saturday, both in Paris and in the regions, by vandals disguised as ‘yellow vests,'” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote on Twitter.
However, he announced an internal police investigation had been launched after a protester was injured at Bastille.
TV images and the victim’s Facebook page showed that Jerome Rodrigues, a prominent figure in the grassroots movement, had been wounded in the eye.
Tension also arose in Paris as an authorised evening gathering, dubbed
“Yellow Night,” at Republic square was curtailed by police as they quickly moved in to disperse protesters.
“I don’t get it. When we declare our protests, we get tear-gassed. When we don’t declare our protests, we get tear-gassed,” 43-year-old demonstrator Hafid Marrouch said at Republic square.