They Were Protesting a Fuel Tax. Then a Driver Panicked

One dead, dozens hurt in France after demonstration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 17, 2018 7:30 AM CST
One Dead, Dozens Hurt in France Fuel Tax Protest
People gather to protest fuel taxes in Lyon, France, on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

One protester was killed and 47 others were injured during roadblocks set up around France to demonstrate against rising fuel taxes, a new challenge to embattled President Emmanuel Macron, the AP reports. The protester was killed when a driver caught in traffic accelerated in a panic at Pont-de-Beauvoisin, near Chambery, a top state official says. Per French media reports, the protesters reportedly knocked on her car as she tried to take her daughter to the hospital. An investigation has been opened. Police say that three of the 47 injured in separate incidents at the protests are in serious condition, per the Interior Ministry, which adds that around 125,000 protesters were involved in about 2,000 demonstrations around France. Officials say that 24 people have been detained and 17 held for questioning.

The ministry says security forces used tear gas in several places to unblock major routes. The government sent in police to monitor tens of thousands of gathering points, some non-declared in advance and therefore illegal. The taxes are part of Macron's strategy of weaning France off fossil fuels. Many drivers see them as emblematic of a presidency they view as disconnected from day-to-day economic difficulties and serving the rich. However, protesters and their supporters have voiced anger about other issues, too, including diminishing buying power. One retiree referred to the president as "King Macron." "We've had enough of it. There are too many taxes in this country," he says. (The price of gas in Manhattan almost hit $5 a gallon last spring.)

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