Paris' iconic Eiffel Tower and Louvre art museum were closed off from the public this past weekend as the country braced itself for even more violent protests in the capital.
According to USA Today, the city experienced its fourth weekend in a row of anti-government demonstrators who took to the streets in what is being referred to as the "gilets jaunes" or "yellow vest" movement. This name is derived from the high-visibility yellow vests that motorists must keep in their vehicles at all times.
The protests first began last month as a means of opposing rising gas prices and planned increases in taxes on polluting means of transportation. However, they have since broadened to include protests against French President Emmanuel Macaron's government, CNN reported.
On Saturday, Paris went into a virtual lockdown to protect itself from who the French Interior Minister has called "radicalized and rebellious people." Amid fears of further violence, the government shut down several tourist attractions, including the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Opera, and the Louvre, and also advised businesses to remain closed as well to avoid looting and damage.
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Since the protests first erupted in the capital, the French retail sector has suffered greatly and lost about $1.1 billion in revenue, Sophie Amoros, a spokeswoman for the French retail federation, told CNN. With the holiday season fast approaching and no foreseeable end to the protests, the city will likely only continue to lose money as locals turn to retailers elsewhere for their shopping needs.
These protests are not only occurring in Paris but are being seen nationwide throughout France. In total, officials have reported there have been four accidental deaths during the riots: three were the result of traffic blockades and the fourth was an 80-year-old woman who was hit and killed by a tear gas canister that smashed through her window.
This past weekend, nearly 90,000 police officers were mobilized across the country, equipped with barricade-busting armored vehicles that were used for the first time in a French urban area since 2005. The massive increase from the 65,000 officers deployed the weekend before is due to the incredible scale the protests quickly grew to, now regarded as the worst street violence seen in the French capital in decades.
"I'm definitely not backing down now," Maxime Nicolle, a member of the gilets jaunes, told CNN. "The moratorium is useless. The people want a referendum, a referendum on Macaron, the Senate and the National Assembly."
Paris has since reopened its temporarily closed attractions and is working to clean up the debris and broken glass left by demonstrators who violently disrupted the capital once again this weekend. There is no word yet on whether these attractions will be closed again this coming weekend and President Macaron is now expected to break his silence and address protestors Monday night.
According to The Independent, the Interior Ministry have reported a total of 1,220 people were taken into custody throughout the country, with another 135 believed to be injured, including 17 policemen.
"Please take care of Paris," Mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN as an appeal to protestors, "because Paris belongs to all the French people."