PARIS — Paris remained on edge Sunday as the gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, took to the streets to protest for a second consecutive day and gathered in two of the city’s main retail centers, including Galeries Lafayette.
Dozens of demonstrators entered the Galeries Lafayette department store’s flagship on Boulevard Haussmann in the early afternoon, waving yellow flags and carrying signs. The store was evacuated not long after they made their way up to the third floor. Then Galeries Lafayette was shut to the public until Monday, according to reports.
Simultaneously, an estimated 200 gilets jaunes assembled near the Les Hallesshopping center close to Place du Châtelet. There were calls for other gatherings elsewhere in Paris, too.
Although Sunday was much calmer than Saturday, many of the French capital’s metro stops remained closed, including numerous stations on the line one that cuts through the city and runs along the tony Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
By 4 p.m. CET, 31 people had been taken in for police questioning in Paris.
Gilets jaunes demonstrated on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of their movement, calling it “act 53.” In Paris, 4,700 people took part in the demonstrations and 28,000 across France.
The protests on Saturday, which often spiraled into violence, were attended not only by gilets jaunes, but by so-called black blocs, a group of anarchists and anticapitalist vandals, as well.
A few thousand people gathered on the Place d’Italie in Paris’ southeastern section starting in the early morning that day. There, the shuttered Italie 2 commercial center was targeted and its windows smashed. Due to the violence, the Paris police department prohibited the demonstrators from using the majorroundabout as the departure point for their march.
The Italie 2 mall in early October had been the scene of a demonstration organized by the ecological movement Extinction Rebellion (or XR), which staged an overnight sit-in there as a statement against consumerism.
On Saturday, the gilets jaunes also gathered at Place de la Bastille and at Châtelet-Les-Halles.
Even as evening set in, sirens wailed perpetually as police vehicles sped through Paris. Gilets jaunes and black blocs roamed the streets, and teargas wafted in the wind.
By the end of the day, 173 people had been called in by police for questioning in Paris and 254 in France overall.
The gilets jaunes movement, which takes its name from the yellow reflective safety vests sported by its demonstrators, started with discontent over a fuel tax but subsequently broadened to encompass a range of frustrations with declining living standards in France.
On many Saturdays at the beginning of the movement swathes of Paris were shut down in case of violence, which had broken out on the Champs-Élysées, among other locales. But as months went by the numbers of protesters diminished, clashes subsided and the city was able to resume its habitual pace.