UPDATES WITH POLICE ACTION AGAINST PROTESTERS IN PARIS, MORE DETAILS OF PROTESTS IN NETHERLANDS
By Serife Cetin and Yusuf Ozcan
PARIS / BRUSSELS (AA) - French police used pepper spray against Yellow Vest protesters along the Champs-Elysees in the capital Paris on Saturday.
The Yellow Vests, protesting rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions, started to gather on the iconic avenue early Saturday.
The police allowed the protesters onto the street after doing security searches.
On the Champs-Elysees, tension among protesters and police ran high.
In addition to using pepper spray, French police blocked demonstrators from exiting the street. Protesters stuck there chanted slogans such as “Macron resign,” meaning French President Emmanuel Macron.
The number of people arrested during Saturday’s protests rose quickly to 700, according to figures from Laurent Nunez, France’s Deputy Interior Minister.
Speaking to France 2 TV, Nunez said that around 31,000 people took part in protests across the country.
Meanwhile, police in Brussels, Belgium, home to NATO and EU institutions, arrested around over 100 protesters ahead of and during the Yellow Vest protests.
Ilse Van de Keere, a police spokesperson, said that arrests were carried out around the Brussels central train station and the Schuman area.
Police in Brussels took tight security measures in the city center and the area where the EU Commission and Council are located.
Security forces in Brussels shunted Yellow Vest protesters onto side streets after the protesters blocked a tunnel between Turkey's Permanent Delegation to the EU and the U.S. Embassy.
Some protesters forced passengers going through the tunnel to wear or display the iconic yellow vests, which are supposed to be kept in car trunks for emergency situations, according to Anadolu Agency reporters on site.
- Protests in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, Yellow Vest protesters gathered in The Hague, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam and called for the government to resign.
Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The Yellow Vest protests in the Netherlands were organized by far-right groups in the country.
In The Hague, protesters urged Rutte to meet with them.
In Rotterdam, around 150 Yellow Vest protesters gathered at the Erasmus Bridge.