YELLOW VESTS VS. YELLOW REGIME
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For the first time in months, the Yellow Vests this Saturday resumed their protest activities on the streets of Paris. The massive march and demonstration echoed those in Eastern Europe before the downfall of the brutal Soviet Eastern Bloc.
As thousands joined the protests the march quickly descended into chaos, scuffles with state police and numerous arrests were made often at random as a means of intimidation.
Following a pause for summer holidays and Covid-19 lockdown, the signature ‘gilets jaunes’ have also planned future marches in Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Lille, Nantes, Nice, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg.
In Paris, throngs of Yellow Vests began amassing in the capital’s centre, with police and state media predicting thousands of protesters taking part. Two demonstrations have been reluctantly authorized by local prefectures, one near the Champs-Elysees and Place de la Bourse, and another near Place Wagram.
The procession that set off from the Place Wagram saw people chanting anti-regime slogans and handing out leaflets listing the movement’s grievances, including demands for increases in the minimum wage, retirement pay, and greater returns on people’s taxation such as an increase in social benefits.
The situation became edgier when brawls broke out, prompting law enforcers to use tear gas and to make arrests en masse. This strategy scoops up all protestors regardless of innocence, guilt or merely by association.
By Saturday afternoon, at least 300 people had been detained, with this number likely to rise substantially as the day progresses. Police cells are crowded and there is difficulty in holding so many protestors in custody.
Paris police were prepared ahead of the renewed Yellow Vests demonstrations. A number of heavily armed state police riot squads were strategically placed all over the protest venues, most notably at the iconic Champs Elysees avenue, previously a site of many violent scenes by outraged citizens. This area was declared by police to be forbidden.
Previous Yellow Vest marches in the area were overshadowed by anti-regime violence, destruction of state property or corporations, and injuries to both police and protesters.
Warnings aside, police forces have geared up for the upcoming season of protests, rolling out new crowd-control weapons. A new ‘non-lethal grenade’, said to be less dangerous than earlier versions was rolled out this week to use against street activists, despite concerns that such a powerful weapon could cause grave injuries.
For their part, some protesters had also prepared for street scuffles. Officers have seized an array of prohibited items, among them knives, hammers and bolt cutters. The Yellow Vests last major demonstration took place back in March 14, just three days before France imposed a strict lockdown due to the so-called Covid-19 epidemic.
The months-long breaks led to speculation in state controlled media that the movement has been losing steam. Named after the bright, high-visibility work apparel they wear, the Yellow Vests had protested every Saturday since November 2018 until the lockdown. The movement emerged on the back of public outcry over fuel tax rises, and has since snowballed into a wider revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s regime. Source
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