PARIS -- Anti-government protesters gained new allies Monday as French paramedics and students joined the rallies in Paris two days after riots rocked the city.
The prime minister, meanwhile, met with political rivals in a bid to ease the anger. President Emmanuel Macron remained silent but met with police officers to offer them support after "a day of unprecedented violence," the Elysee palace said.
On Saturday, more than 130 people were injured and 412 arrested in the French capital. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, closing dozens of streets and subway stations to contain the riot.
The "yellow jacket" movement -- led by protesters wearing the distinctively colored roadside safety vests used by motorists -- has drawn people from across the political spectrum to protest France's economic inequalities and waning spending power.
More protests took place Monday in Paris, with dozens of ambulances blocking a bridge leading to the National Assembly.
The paramedics who joined the demonstrations are expressing their opposition to changes in working conditions. Students opposing education changes also joined in, blocking dozens of high schools across France, according to French media reports.
Macron held an emergency meeting Sunday. The government hasn't ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the crisis has forced Macron to postpone a visit to Belgrade.
Saturday's rioting marked the third straight weekend of clashes in Paris. The protests began last month with motorists upset over a fuel-tax increase, but they have expanded as more people accuse Macron's government of not caring about the problems of ordinary people. Other protests in France remained peaceful.
On Sunday, some of the most popular tourist streets in Paris were littered with torched cars and broken glass from looted shops, and the Arc de Triomphe monument was defaced by graffiti.
During Monday's protest by paramedics, some demonstrators set fire to a small pile of debris and blocked traffic. One activist held up a sign reading "The State killed me," and others chanted "Macron resign!"
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Macron have been criticized for their handling of the crisis. After meeting with the prime minister, Socialist leader Olivier Faure urged Philippe to drop the tax increases and to restore a wealth tax that was slashed by the centrist government.
"We want a change in the method. One needs to come down from Mount Olympus," Faure said, a reference to Macron's nickname of Jupiter, from the ancient Roman god.
Laurent Wauquiez, head of the center-right Les Republicains party, urged Macron to hold a referendum to end the crisis, though he didn't say what its topic should be.
"French people need to be heard again, and for that we must organize a referendum to decide these issues. Only these measures will restore calm," Wauquiez said.
Since the movement began Nov. 17, three people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests. In the past three weeks, demonstrators have been setting up roadblocks across the country, and their movement has won wide public support.
Philippe plans to speak with representatives of the yellow jacket movement today. Members of the National Assembly will also hold talks on the crisis later this week. Meanwhile, the trade union CGT has called for a day of protest across France on Dec. 14.
Information for this article was contributed by Michel Euler of The Associated Press.
A Section on 12/04/2018
Print Headline: French paramedics, students join protest