PARIS, June 15 -- The mass demonstrations in France are continuing for the 31st week in a row, as people take to the streets of Paris and other cities to show their indignation at French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms.
The wave of yellow vests rallies started in France in mid-November over a planned hike in fuel taxes. While the French government has abandoned its plans to raise fuel taxes and introduced other measures aimed at improving the country's socioeconomic situation, protesters have continued to take to the streets across the country every weekend to express their discontent with government policies. The rallies frequently lead to damage and clashes between the police and activists.
PARIS, June 9 -- The number of demonstrators who gathered in the French capital last Saturday for a rally marking the 30th week of protests saw the lowest turnout since the movement began.
According to the Midi Libre paper, French police have resorted to using water cannons and tear gas against yellow vests protesters in the southern city of Montpellier, as the demonstrations swept across the nation for the 30th Saturday in a row. Yellow vests protesters took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Saturday to show their indignation at police violence as well as French President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms. In addition, about 2,000 yellow vest protesters marched in France's southern city of Montpellier on Saturday, police used tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrators, local media reported. The activists gathered in the centre of Montpellier at around 10 a.m. (08:00 GMT). Police used tear gas and water cannons against the protesters at noon, the French Midi Libre newspaper specified. According to French media, more than 10,000 protesters took part in the demonstrations across France. Two people received injuries as a result of the clashes and two people were arrested, according to the daily.
PARIS, May 25 -- The chief of police in Paris has condemned calls by some Yellow Vest protestors to organise unauthorised demonstrations on the 28th Saturday of the protest movement.
Saying that the authorities were aware of a movement on social media, calling on gilets jaunes to support undeclared demonstrations, the capital's police chief, Didier Lallement promised that unauthorised protests will be dealt with firmly. One march has been approved by Paris police for this 28th consecutive weekend of protest. That official demonstration is expected to leave the Père Lachaise cemetery in the north of the city around noon, and end at the Sacré Coeur church, also in northern Paris. However, calls on social media have asked protestors to gather in several other emblematic points in the city, advising them to avoid carrying anything that would alert police suspicions.
Didier Lallement says his officers are ready to take action, anywhere in Paris. He believes that the change in strategy by some protest organisers is a reflection of the success with which the forces of order have controlled recent demonstrations. For the tenth consecutive Saturday, no public gathering will be permitted in the vicinity of the central Champs-Elysées shopping street, nor near the official presidential residence or the French parliament. The area around the fire-damaged Notre Dame cathedral is also closed to groups.
PARIS, May 18 -- France's Yellow Vest protesters are taking to the streets for the 27th weekend in a row. A major protest is set to take place in Paris.
Tens of thousands have marched in the streets of France every Saturday since November 2018, for a variety of grievances ranging from taxes on fuel to income inequality. In addition to protesting in France, the Yellow Vests have been spotted in other parts of Europe.
PARIS, May 11 -- French police fired tear gas in skirmishes with masked demonstrators in Lyon and Nantes on Saturday, the 26th straight weekend of “yellow vest” protests against President Emmanuel Macron and his economic reform agenda.
In Nantes, black-hooded demonstrators on the fringes of a largely peaceful protest hurled bottles and smashed shop windows, while in Lyon tear gas swirled as police tried to funnel protesters away from the central Place Bellecour. Six months after the grassroot rebellion erupted over the high cost of living and Macron’s perceived indifference towards the plight of working class France, the movement is losing momentum. Saturday’s apparently low turnout nationwide will be a relief to Macron, little more than two weeks out from European elections. The far-right, polling neck-and-neck with Macron’s party, is billing the vote as a referendum on his first two years in office. The prolonged unrest has forced the president into costly policy concessions and put the brakes on his reform timetable, including an overhaul of the pension system this year.
PARIS, May 4 -- Anti-government protesters marched in France on Saturday for a 25th straight week, and several dozen demonstrated at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport to denounce privatization plans.
The crowds at the yellow vest protests in Paris appeared thin as they got underway - in contrast to the thousands who joined the annual May Day march Wednesday, organized by labor unions, that was marked by violence. Security was visibly lighter than for the May Day march. There were no reports of violence. Demonstrations were also held in cities around France, including Nice and Marseille, the Alpine town of Chambery and in Lyon, where ecologists and yellow vest protesters joined forces. The leaderless yellow vest movement sprang up in mid-November to oppose policies of President Emmanuel Macron seen as favoring the rich. Macron responded last month with measures including tax cuts and plans to close France's elite school for top civil servants, while defending his pro-business policies. Three lists of yellow vest candidates are running in a May 26 election for France's representatives to the European Union parliament.
PARIS, April 28 -- Yellow vest protests are taking place in France's main cities for the 24th consecutive week to challenge economic policies that President Emmanuel Macron stood by while unveiling measures intended to quell the anti-government movement.
In Paris, a few thousand people participated in two peaceful demonstrations on Saturday. Veterans of the protests, which have been running for six months now, led off the Paris march, organised by the militant CGT union. But in a new development, many senior figures from the radical left marched with them, including Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of France Unbowed and one of Macron's most vocal critics. In the eastern city of Strasbourg, near the German border, police used tear gas to stop a crowd heading toward the European Parliament building. In his response to the movement, Macron announced tax cuts for middle-class workers and plans to close France's elite college for top civil servants and politicians. But he said he would keep pushing pro-business policies opposed by protesters who criticise Macron for his alleged favouring of the wealthy and are demanding wage and pension increases.
Disappointed by Macron's plans
Thierry-Paul Valette, the founder of a group called Yellow Vests Citizens and one of the organisers of the movement, said on Friday that Emmanuel Macron failed to deliver on the protesters demands. "We have not received satisfaction, therefore, we will continue the movement," Valette said.
Valette also criticised Macron's personality labelling him as "brutal" and "stubborn."
'Too little, too late'
For many within the yellow vest movement, Macron's reforms were simply too little, too late. In Aubagne near Marseille, a dozen or so protesters angrily rejected his speech, denouncing the reforms as "stupid trivial measures" which they said showed he had "not listened to the people's demands". "He's taking us for idiots, it's a load of crap," fumed Jean-Luc, a shopkeeper who said he had "had enough of seeing elderly people rummaging through dustbins". And he was also fed up "with rich people thinking they could teach (the protesters) a lesson".
Priscillia Ludosky, a key figure in the movement, simply tweeted the dates of the next seven Saturdays, each marked with the word: "demo". In saying he would continue with his reform programme and even step up the pace, Macron had "stuck his fingers up at the yellow vests" said Sebastian Chenu, spokesman for the far-right National Rally. Plans to increase diesel prices and raise taxes on pensions provided the spark that initially triggered the protests in rural France in November, which quickly ballooned into a full-scale anti-government rebellion. A poll carried out for Le Figaro newspaper found that 63 percent of people found Macron unconvincing and 80 percent thought the "yellow vest" protests would continue.
PARIS, April 22 -- The massive, self-organised social movement known as the Yellow Vests held its second nationwide “Assembly of Assemblies” earlier this month.
Hundreds of activist groups from all over France each chose two delegates – one woman, one man – to gather in the port city of St. Nazaire. Local Yellow Vests hosted 700 delegates at the St. Nazaire “House of the People.” The three-day series of meetings and working groups went off without a hitch in an atmosphere of good-fellowship. A sign on the wall proclaimed, “No one has the solution, but everybody has a piece of it.” Their project – mobilise their “collective intelligence” to reorganise, strategise, and prolong their struggle. Their aim – achieve the immediate goals of liveable wages and retirements, restoration of social benefits and public services. Tax the rich and end fiscal fraud to pay for preserving the environment. And, most ambitious of all, reinvent democracy in the process. Their Declaration ends with the phrase, “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I often wonder if they know who coined it.
Yellow and Green Unite and Fight
Particular attention was paid to the issue of the environment, reaffirming the popular slogan, “End of the week. End of the world. Same logic, same struggle.” It rhymes in French. The Assembly called on people to “take up a conflictual stance against the present system in order to create, together, a new ecological, popular social movement”. This shows growth from the original Yellow Vest uprising, which began as a protest against a hike in taxes on diesel fuel imposed in the name of “saving the environment.” Less well known is that only 17 percent of that tax was earmarked for the environment.
In any case, French president Emmanuel Macron rescinded it in an early attempt to pacify the movement. Since then, the Yellow Vests have tentatively converged with environmental groups. Many poor and working class Yellow Vests can’t help seeing them as bourgeois on bicycles unwilling to struggle directly against the establishment. So their call for unity is also a challenge to the environmental movement – “Join us in the struggle for social equality and be ready to fight the whole system.” Brilliant! Who said an unstructured autonomous movement of ordinary, not well-educated people, could not come up with strategies and tactics? “No one has the solution, but everybody has a piece of it.” This was the basis of direct democracy in Athens, from which the Yellow Vests have also borrowed the idea of choosing representatives by lot.
The Assembly of Assemblies reaffirmed the Yellow Vest founding principle of keeping clear of political parties. Also of leaders. To my mind this is genius. Every popular mass movement I have participated in over the past 60 years has been co-opted by the establishment or crushed. Leaders set up an office, try to raise money and gain access to power, end up compromising. They treat rank and file activists like a mailing list and the power and dynamic of the mass movement melts away. Instinctively, the Yellow Vests seem to have assimilated the profound criticism of representative democracy that goes back to the 18th century and was applied during the 1871 Paris Commune. There delegates were given limited mandates, subject to instant recall, regularly rotated, and paid at workers’ wages. The Communards also called on other cities to rise and link up as a federation. This is the Yellow Vests’ modus operandi.
This critique of representation explains the Assembly’s attitude toward upcoming elections for the European Parliament. Fear of being manipulated for political purposes is strong. Last month Yellow Vests at a Paris demonstration recognised a Yellow Vest who had just declared her candidacy, apparently in the name of the Yellow Vests. They were furious and yelled at her until she withdrew, shaken. Ugly, but a necessary example to anyone else who would rather be a politician than a Yellow Vest. The Assembly, far from calling for a Frexit, reached out to social movements in the other countries of the European Union in a call to come together and struggle against its neoliberal policies.
The Assembly saw no point in voting in this sham election. As everyone knows, the European Parliament has no power or even visibility. Moreover, it limits the deficit spending of its member countries, thus making it illegal for France to finance the social services and environmental reconstruction people are demanding.
PARIS, April 20 -- Yellow Vests Protesters Urge Regions to Join Rallies in Paris.
Saturday’s demonstration marks the 23rd consecutive week of protests that have engulfed the country since mid-November. Last Saturday, some thirty thousand protesters took part in the protests. The protesters have taken to social media to mobilise their supporters from France's regions to gather for new protests dubbed "Ultimatum 2". Representatives of the movement in Normandy have already responded to the call. The demonstrators intend to make Paris the capital of this week's protests. The rally's main venue has so far been kept secret.
Another rally is expected to take place near the Basilica of Saint Denis in the northern district of the capital. The demonstrators seek to march to the square Place de la Bataille-de-Stalingrad and wrap up their procession at the Quai Saint-Bernard embankment. The protesters, however, have been prohibited from staging demonstrations in the vicinity of the Notre Dame de Paris by order of the city's police. According to the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, some sixty thousand policemen and gendarmes will be dispatched to keep order in the streets.
More demonstrations are expected to take place in regional centres including Toulouse, Montpelier, and Bordeaux. Nevertheless, heads of several departments, including Loire-Atlantique and Rhône, have cautioned against protests not coordinated with the local authorities. The Yellow Vests rallies have been ongoing in the country since mid-November. In March, rioters ravaged much of the Champs-Élysées during the previous "Ultimatum".
PARIS, April 14 -- France's 'yellow vests' are back in the street, hoping to make a comeback after participation dropped to its lowest level since the start of the movement last weekend.
The Interior Ministry counted 22,300 protesters at the last of the now weekly protests on April 6. Since then, the government has presented the findings of the "Great Debate" - the nationwide listening exercise organized to quell the anger of the "yellow vests" - though President Emmanuel Macron has yet to make any policy announcements on the back of the results.This week, the new "anti-hooligan" law came into effect which includes new crimes such as covering one's face during demonstrations without a legitimate motive, though the constitutional council struck down provisions for banning individuals from protests.
In the French city of Toulouse, Police forces have clashed with protesters and used flash balls and tear gas against rock-throwing protesters. Several people got injured in the clashes. The government has repeatedly denounced the actions of violent thugs who they say have infiltrated the movement and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner described the new law on Twitter as one that "protects the French from insecurity and violence" and "protects our institutions and our liberties." The rallies started in mid-November to protest against Macron’s planned fuel price hikes, but they snowballed into a national movement, rejecting Macron's policies and his leadership.