Protesters take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vest" movement in Paris, Feb. 16, 2019.
Protesters take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vest" movement in Paris, Feb. 16, 2019.

PARIS - French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who threw projectiles and set bins on fire in Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux on Saturday, as the 14th straight 
weekend of "yellow vest" protests took a violent turn in the afternoon.

In Rouen in the north, four people were injured after a driver tried to force his way through a crowd of protesters, authorities said. 

Demonstrators gathered peacefully earlier in the day at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a flash point of clashes with the police in the early days of the protests, before marching toward the Eiffel Tower. 

Later in the afternoon, police and hooded protesters clashed at the Esplanade des Invalides in central Paris where the march was expected to end, forcing some into adjoining streets where skirmishes were reported.

In Bordeaux and Lyon, police also fired tear gas and charged, to disperse projectile-throwing demonstrators after bins were set on fire and properties destroyed.

Protesters tried to block a depot operated by online retail giant Amazon, and some threw stones at police in Toulouse in the south, BFM Television reported.

Protesters wearing yellow vests clash with French
Protesters wearing yellow vests clash with French riot police near the Invalides during a demonstration of the "yellow vest" movement in Paris, Feb. 16, 2019.

A poll this week showed dwindling support for the "yellow vest" demonstrations, named for motorists' high-visibility jackets, which began in November over fuel taxes and morphed into a more general revolt against politicians and a government they see as out of touch. More than half of those surveyed said they wanted the occasionally violent protests to end.

But some at Saturday's protests said they were part of a humanist movement aimed at improving the lives of everyone in the country.

'Too bad for them'

"I can understand that some people have had enough, but we're not doing this just for us," said Madeleine, a 33-year old unemployed protester. "It's a very humanist movement and we're doing this for everyone. So if right now they're fed up, then too bad for them."

There has been infighting among leaders of the grass-roots movement, although some have outlined plans to extend the weekly protests to Sunday.

The French interior ministry said about 41,500 protesters took part in demonstrations across the country Saturday, compared with 51,400 last week and the highs of more than 300,000 in November. The ministry's estimate in Paris was 4,000 protesters, compared with 5,000 last week.