Thousands of Yellow Vest protesters rallied in several French cities for a tenth consecutive weekend on Saturday, even after a national debate was launched this week by President Emmanuel Macron which was supposed to assuage their frustration, Act X was a wild ride.
In the City of Light, protesters marched starting at the Invalides monument, which is home to Napoleon’s tomb, to commemorate the 10 people killed in protest-related accidents and the hundreds of injured since the movement began. Around 5.000 marched in the French capital alone.
They carried a banner that read “Citizens in danger” and marched through the city while brandishing coffin-shaped black boards for remembrance.
5,000 police were deployed throughout the capital, especially around government buildings and the Champs-Elysees. Some 80,000 police are spread out nationwide. Act X was not taken lightly.
The capital and much of France have endured weeks of protests that at times turned into violent. Saturday marks the 10th straight weekend of Yellow Vests protests. The French have four feet on the gas pedal, as many analysts have pointed out.
‘Flash-ball’ controversy over riot-gun injuries
The Police has been criticised by protestors and human rights groups for the use of LBD launchers known by protesters as “flash-ball guns” – armaments which fire rubber projectiles that have left dozens of people injured.
These weapons are quite dangerous, especially if aimed at people’s heads:
Volunteer firefighter Olivier Béziade, 47, was shot in the back of the head by one of these riot guns during a protest on the 12th of January in Bordeaux. There is video evidence of him running from police and then collapsing in the street, his face covered in blood.
He was taken to a hospital, treated for a brain haemorrhage and left in an artificial coma, from which he thankfully awoke on Friday.
Macron’s National Debate
The grassroots protest which started two months ago has now turned into an engine of change for the French people with the protests reaching Act X, and they are not about to let it go easily.
In a bid to halt the protests’ momentum, Macron launched his ‘grand debate‘ this week while meeting mayors and local officials. The
debate will last for three months and will include meetings organised by ordinary citizens, associations and elected officials to allow the French people to express their views on economy and democracy. A stop-gap measure which hasn’t born fruit so far…
However, Emmanuel still plans to go ahead with his controversial finance reform…
The centrist, former Rothschild banker, promised to increase the minimum wage, cut taxes for poor pensioners and tax-free overtime pay in order to quell the riots.
Anger at the government is strongest from the rural working class who are fuming that there is a squeeze on household spending power, and who have noticed that their nation is dissapearing around them.
Many also feel Macon favours the urban elite. “The President of the rich” has not been handling the situation well, how could he? If projections are correct, the French could change many things in their wonderful nation for the better.
The unspoken and even now ‘controversial’ topic of immigration will need to be addressed, as it is the cause of many of the problems which France is dealing with.