France’s ‘yellow vests’ mobilise for fresh round of protests

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 12, 2019

The central French city of Bourges is shuttering shops to brace for possible violence between police and yellow vest protesters, as the nationwide movement seeks a new stage for its weekly demonstrations.

Paris police said they wouldn't let down their guard, and deployed armored vehicles, horses and attack dogs around the city.

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and a yellow vest (gilet jaune), holds a French flag in front of the Arc de Triomphe during an anti-government demonstration called by the Yellow Vest movement in Paris, on January 12, 2019.

Authorities deployed 80,000 security forces nationwide for the anti-government protests.

The city's chamber of commerce estimates that almost 500 shops have been damaged since the protests began, and many shops are likely to be boarded up and closed again on Saturday.

Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said he expected demonstrators in Paris to outnumber the estimated 3,500 that attempted to march on the National Assembly last week, and predicted they would be "more tempted by violence". Interior Minister Christophe Castaner threatened tough retaliation against rioters and their backers, warning of increasing radicalization among the largely peaceful demonstrators.

"Those who question our institutions will not have the last word", Philippe said.

Last Saturday around 50,000 people wearing the movement's trademark high-visibility vests took part in protests nationwide, though that was far below the almost 300,000 that turned out for the inaugural protest in mid-November.

Last week, a group of demonstrators used a forklift to ram the doors of the ministry of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, and a former professional boxer battered two police officers guarding a bridge over the Seine river.

Macron has called for a national debate on voters' grievances, beginning next week, hoping to sate demands for more of a say in national law-making and tamp down the protesters' anger.

But the process risks being hobbled by record levels of distrust towards politicians and representatives of the state.

A poll by the respected Cevipof political sciences institute released Friday showed 77 percent of respondents thought politicians inspired "distrust", "disgust" or "boredom".

And it's uncertain if the public consultations will be enough, with many protesters calling for Macron's resignation or an immediate referendum on his presidency.

"We've come to Paris to make ourselves heard, and we wanted to see for ourselves at least once what's going on here", a man, who travelled to Paris from western France to attend the protest, told AFP.

"People from Asia in particular are anxious and need to be reassured", Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo


Segui i nostri GIORNALE