Talks collapse between French protesters and prime minister

Talks collapse between French protesters and prime minister
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2018 file photo, protesters known as the yellow jackets, wave a French flag and a poster reading "Free toll" as they open the toll gates on a motorway in Antibes, southern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File) (Source: Claude Paris)

PARIS (AP) — A planned meeting between France's prime minister and a team of representatives of a nationwide protest movement collapsed Friday amid threats from some demonstrators and after a request to broadcast the talks live was rejected.

The fiasco came on the eve of protests planned Saturday across France, including on Paris' Champs-Elysees avenue, where a demonstration last weekend turned violent. Shopkeepers on Friday prepared for the worst, barricading their boutiques.

The "yellow jackets" movement, heading into its third week, was triggered by rising fuel taxes but has grown to include an array of demands, becoming a major challenge to President Emmanuel Macron. So far, he has not backed down on scheduled fuel tax increases meant to wean France off fossil fuels.

"Yellow jackets" is a reference to the fluorescent security jackets worn by the protesters.

Jason Herbert said he cut short his meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe after his request for a live transmission of the encounter was refused. Another protester remained, spending an hour with the prime minister but choosing to remain anonymous.

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, block a roundabout as they protest against the fuel taxes, in Molsheim, eastern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, Fiule)
FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, block a roundabout as they protest against the fuel taxes, in Molsheim, eastern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, Fiule) (Source: Jean-Francois Badias)

Philippe said later that his talks with the remaining protester were useful and his door was open if the "yellow jackets" choose representatives.

"So as not to betray anyone, I didn't want to take part in a discussion," Herbert said, reflecting the complex nature of the grassroots movement with no leaders.

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 file picture protesters, known as the yellow jackets, block a crossroads in Saint-Maximin, southern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 file picture protesters, known as the yellow jackets, block a crossroads in Saint-Maximin, southern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File) (Source: Claude Paris)

The eight-member delegation set to meet the prime minister "no longer exists," he said.

"We have all received enormous pressure ... threats, be they verbal or physical," Herbert said. "Our lives are still at stake." He said that 89 percent of the threats he received came from other "yellow jackets who maybe thought we were there for the glory."

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov.17, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, block the border between France and Spain in Biriatou, southwestern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Bob Edme, File)
FILE - In this Saturday, Nov.17, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, block the border between France and Spain in Biriatou, southwestern France. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Bob Edme, File) (Source: Bob Edme)

He described those proffering threats as people "terribly hopeless, terribly miserable (who) lost everything (because) everything was taken from them."

Meanwhile, shopkeepers on Paris' Champs-Elysees scrambled to prepare for possible new violence, bringing in workers to barricade boutique windows with boards. Decorative iron grates, used last week in barricades, were removed from around trees and outdoor terraces dismantled.

FILE - In this Nov 19, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, invade the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, as they protest against the rise in fuel prices. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday Nov. 30, 2018, in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, File)
FILE - In this Nov 19, 2018 file picture, demonstrators, known as the yellow jackets, invade the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, as they protest against the rise in fuel prices. France's prime minister Edouard Philippe will meet with some protesters' representatives on Friday Nov. 30, 2018, in an effort to calm the tensions over rising taxes, a first since the movement started two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu, File) (Source: Kamil Zihnioglu)

"It's as if there was a war. It's incredible," said Paris resident Olivier Le Quellec. "We are sealing off the center of the village. It becomes a little ghetto. It's frightening."

Motorists protesting a fuel tax hike have been joined by farmers, white collar workers, retirees and others in the "yellow jackets" movement that now involves a broad range of demands related to the country's high cost of living.

Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, protest against the rising of the fuel taxes as French interior minister Christophe Castaner visits a police barrack in Cenon, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Demonstrators, called the yellow jackets, protest against the rising of the fuel taxes as French interior minister Christophe Castaner visits a police barrack in Cenon, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Bob Edme) (Source: Bob Edme)

Their list of demands includes tax cuts, the creation of a citizens' assembly, state-funded subsidies to help companies boost hiring, and higher pensions and a higher national minimum wage.

A spokesman for France's Union of National Police Chiefs said it was critical to be prepared for Saturday's events.

Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

"We can't be naive. Tomorrow is a day of risks," David Le Bars said on BFMTV.

The protests began to gain traction in neighboring Belgium as well, with dozens of "yellow jacket" demonstrators angry about high taxes and living costs causing traffic chaos in Brussels on Friday. They gathered near the Belgian government and the parliament, as police watched on with water cannon trucks parked nearby.

Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

Recent polls show that up to 80 percent of the French are sympathetic to the movement. Some are latching on to denounce the perceived elitism of Macron, seen by some as being out of touch with ordinary people.

"Mr. Macron, you don't deserve to eat my chickens," poultry farmer Alois Gury said in a video made with his mobile phone, wearing a yellow jacket in his farm hangar as hens cackled. The video of the 33-year-old from eastern France quickly went viral this week on social media.

Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

The chef at the Elysee presidential palace, Guillaume Gomez, has since said the farmer wasn't among his suppliers.

Gury said he works 80 hours a week to earn just 700 euros ($790) a month.

Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Workers reinforce store windows on the famed Champs Elysees avenue to prepare for an expected protest by the "yellow jackets" on Saturday as a protest last weekend degenerated into violence, in Paris, France, Friday, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

"I'm in trouble ... My mother is buying 50 euros ($56) in grocery shopping every Tuesday because I don't have the money," he said.

The farmer is but one example of the diversity of the movement and the breadth of anger at Macron.

Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

Prominent figures among the "yellow jackets" include a truck driver living south of Paris who makes live videos on Facebook, a singer from southern France who wrote a humoristic song to tell Macron "we want to pay less" and a 33-year-old founder of an online cosmetic shop who launched an online petition for a fuel tax cut that reached 1 million signatures.

A 51-year-old accordion player from western France, Jacline Mouraud, is considered a precursor of the movement since she posted a video on Facebook in mid-October that has tallied over 6 million views.

Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

"We are fed up!" she said.

___

Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, leaves the Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)

Nicolas Garriga in Paris and Lorne Cooke in Brussels contributed.

Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, arrives at Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Jason Herbert, member of the so-called yellow jackets movement, arrives at Prime Minister office, in Paris, France. Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. A much-awaited meeting Friday between French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and a delegation of eight members of a nationwide grassroots protest movement collapsed over an official refusal to transmit the talks live and threats to the delegation from some protesters, one of two people who showed up for the encounter said. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (Source: Thibault Camus)