Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty

PARIS—French police and gendarmes kept hordes of “yellow vest” protesters and vandals away from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday, and drove them straight into my neighborhood.

Cars and motor scooters burned on the street behind my place, and the street in front, and near my favorite café. It was shuttered this Saturday evening at a time when the mild temperatures might have seen dozens of people at the sidewalk tables. Tear gas floated in the air, singeing the eyes of people inside nearby apartments.

Everywhere there were “gilets jaunes,” the eponymous shiny vests required in all vehicles for safety’s sake if you’ve got a breakdown by the side of the road. But among the protesters it was hard to tell who were the decent people coming to Paris to defend what they see as their rights to cheaper fuel, lower taxes and greater social services, and who were the “casseurs,” the revved-up men, and some women, attracted by chaos, and ever ready to create it.

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Author: By christopher.dickey@thedailybeast.com (Christopher Dickey)