Paris is preparing for new clashes while the "Yellow Jacket" protests sweep France - NBC News

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Of Saphora Smith

PARIS – The French capital was closed on Saturday while the city prepared for what many fear will be the most violent protests in the weeks of strong anti-government demonstrations that have swept the country.

The protests that began last month against the expected tax hikes on gas turned into a wider rebuke of the presidency of Emmanuel Macron and angered at his attempts to reform France's long-run economy.

Nearly eight out of ten people in France are supporting protests, according to a survey published last week.

Paris was largely deserted on Saturday morning while riot police waited at street corners and the first streams of protesters were heading for the Champs-Elysees, intoning the iconic national anthem of the country and waving the tricolor flag as they crossed the presidential palace.

The protesters of yellow jackets walk along the Champs Elysees on Saturday.IAN LANGSDON / EPA

The facades of shops along the world-famous street – the scene of last week's clashes between protesters and police – have been barricaded behind plywood sheets in preparation for even more violence.

Hundreds of people were already in custody, the authorities said, while plumes of gray tear gas occasionally punctuated the crowd.

Officials said they planned to deploy 8,000 policemen in the capital, as Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned that "ultraviolet people" would try to get off the streets of Paris.

"According to the information we have, some radicalized and rebellious people will try to mobilize tomorrow," Castaner told a news conference on Friday.

The glittering museums and galleries of Paris – including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower – said they would not open their doors to the usual group of tourists on holiday.

Football matches have also been canceled across the country.

While the Parisians were preparing for what seemed to be another weekend of destruction, the overwhelming majority who spoke to NBC News on Friday said they had backed the complaints of the so-called Yellow Jackets.

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