Yellow Vests and their supporters defied the government for the fourth time. The latest protests, Act IV, required more courage because Macron and Co. have adopted a tougher tone. 89,000 police officers were mobilized across the country, including 8,000 in Paris and tanks in the Bastille area. In addition, there were hundreds of preventive arrests – 400 on Saturday morning alone. Yesterday, the Yellow Vests’ media figure Eric Drouet was charged for “incitement to commit a crime or misdemeanor.” In short, Macron had his opponents arrested. His main goal is to restore the state’s authority which has been undermined by the Yellow Vests. This was shown by the unprecedented use of tanks.
By the end of the day, many demonstrators are wounded. A 20-year old woman lost an eye after she was shot by a rubber bullet.
Early in the morning, Yellow Vests gathered on the Champs-Elysées. By 10am, there were thousands of them demonstrating down the avenue. They were soon blocked by the riot police, who cut the column in half, blocked the street and trapped the demonstrators on one section of the Champs. In the end, a teargas cloud was blocking the front of the column and the air became unbreathable. It was quite the same situation around the railway station, where the “Justice for Adama” committee against police violence, students, postal workers, railway workers and LGBT+ collectives gathered to support the Yellow Vests.
The “Justice for Adama” committee and railway workers begin the demonstration
Demonstrators and railway workers kneel, arms behind their head, to express their solidarity with the detained high schoolers in Mantes-la-Jolie’s.
The column marching from the railway station tried to reach the Champs and join the demonstration there. But the police blocked them and rerouted the demonstration towards Châtelet in the center of Paris. Thousands of demonstrators managed to advance peacefully, but once again it did not last long. Around 1pm, the police charged to try to scatter the demonstrators using teargas grenades and water canons. It is clear that the police want to prevent the the two demonstrations from joining up. The “Champs” column is stuck on the Champs, and the supporting column from the railway station is again rerouted towards the east of the city.
They were clearly trying to break up this non-violent demonstration which united many different sectors: Yellow Vests and anti-racist activists, railway workers and students, postal workers and teachers. The violence was started by the police, not the Yellow Vests. Around the Bastille, there are tanks waiting for any demonstrators who venture there.
Tanks driving around the columns
According to the police’s statement, there were 135,000 demonstrators on the streets across France on Saturday. But looking at the 89,000 police officers, it’s hard to believe that we were only 135,000 protestors. It was clearly more than that.
The Yellow Vests’ slogan “Macron, we’re going to break everything in your house” is mingling to the students’ slogan “we stay determined”. And we need determination. The government has spoken of “incitement to murder”, as a way to put its troops in a certain state of mind. The Repression is already serious and brutal. The police are told to use repression and provocateurs in the columns. And of course to beat the masses – the governments needs images to justify its discourse. Once again, violence will not come from the demonstrators’ side. They are defending their democratic rights to demonstrate and oppose to Macron and his anti-social politics.
Translation: Manon Veret / Wladek Flakin