Red Scarf Protests Counter Yellow Vests

PARIS (AP) -- Hundreds of people wearing red scarves marched through Paris on Sunday to protest acts of violence and vandalism that took place during the largely peaceful yellow vest movement's two months of anti-government demonstrations.

The "red scarves" demonstration came amid growing divisions around the yellow vest phenomenon, which has led to rioting in Paris and other cities, exposed deep discontent with President Emmanuel Macron and prompted national soul-searching.

Protest damage to the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris in December was a turning point for many of the counter-protesters at Sunday's march.

"We don't share all the demands expressed by the yellow vest movement, for instance demands about overthrowing the government, brutalizing institutions," Laurent Segnis, a member of Macron's centrist Republic on the Move party, said.

Others lamented their sense the movement that appeared in mid-November to be a grassroots response to a fuel tax is radicalizing as it nears the end of a third month.

Ten people have died in road incidents since the protests started on Nov. 17 and about 2,000 people have been injured. The weekly protests in Paris routinely descend into clashes between riot police and participants who throw rocks at officers and set fires in the streets.

The yellow vest movement, which includes people across France's political spectrum, sees Macron's government as favoring the wealthy. Many movement supporters dismissed the "red scarves" as Macron stooges, though the president's party didn't officially take part in the counter-demonstrations.

Some 69,000 people nationwide took part Saturday in the 11th week of yellow vest protests, down from more than 80,000 during the previous two weekends, according to the French Interior Ministry. The protests in Paris were scattered, with different groups staging events at different sites.

On Sunday, French police were investigating how a prominent yellow vest protester, Jerome Rodrigues, suffered an eye injury in Paris. Video images show Rodriguez collapsed on the ground Saturday near the Bastille monument, where protesters throwing projectiles clashed with police seeking to disperse them.

Police armed with guns that fire non-lethal rubber balls - ammunition that has seriously injured a number of demonstrators - were equipped with body cameras this weekend for the first time. Officials said the cameras were being used as an experiment to record use of the non-lethal weapons, providing context and eventual evidence if needed.

(KA)