French Police Defend Actions After Clashes With Protesters

PARIS (AP) -
A protester wearing a yellow vest attends a demonstration by the “yellow vests” movement as police use a water cannon on the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Dec. 22. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann)

French authorities are defending police actions to contain protest violence after a policeman was seen briefly brandishing a gun at a surging crowd in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for “the most severe” legal repercussions against violent protesters. Speaking during a visit to Chad, Macron called for “order, calm and unity.”

The numbers of protesters were sharply down Saturday on the sixth weekend of actions by the yellow vest movement, but violence again erupted in Paris.

A video of the gun-wielding policeman surrounded by protesters circulated online. He did not fire, but the threat of lethal action shocked many.

Police union officials said Sunday the officer acted in self-defense. The interior minister praised the “professionalism and composure” of security forces and called for a national debate to addresses the protesters’ economic concerns.