Yellow Vests: National Mobilisation Before Three Days of the Great Debate, First Tensions in Paris

General News
"Yellow vests" gathered in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Bercy, January 12, 2019 in Paris.

The mobilisation of “yellow vests” continues this Saturday in the calm for the ninth consecutive week. The events take place in a calm atmosphere.

Three days of national debate supposed to appease their anger, tens of thousands of ” yellow vests ” are again in the streets Saturday everywhere in France for the act 9 of their challenge against the social and fiscal policy of the government, notably in Paris and in Bourges, Caen or Rouen .

In recent days, the government has hardened the tone by announcing that “ultra-violence” it would oppose “ultra-firmness”. And the device has been reinforced for larger and more violent gatherings.

But at the beginning of the afternoon, the first gatherings take place overall in calm, without noticeable incident.

First tensions in Paris

The first tear gas was thrown by police officers near the Champs-Elysees at the end of the demonstration of “Yellow Vests” to try to disperse.

The boss of the national police estimated before the weekend that the mobilisation could return to the level before Christmas: December 15th, 66,000 people were counted in France, according to official figures challenged by the “yellow vests”.

In this deteriorating climate, the Paris police chief feared “more radical”, claiming to observe “week after week a drift towards more and more violent behaviour”.

Thousands of demonstrators, however, paraded quietly in the capital at midday, said an AFP journalist. Part of the Ministry of Finance, in Bercy, late morning, they must disperse around 5pm from Place de l’Etoile, at the top of the Champs-Elysees.

Under the motto “We will do the sales in Paris! “This event was relayed by Eric Drouet, one of the figures of the movement that began two months ago.

“More purchasing power”

Among the recurrent slogans: “Liberate Christophe”, in reference to the former boxer Christophe Dettinger filmed hitting two gendarmes last Saturday during the demonstration of “yellow vests” and locked since then pending his trial.

“The appointment was in front of Bercy to ask Darmanin and all the clique of the government more purchasing power in the wallet,” said AFP Gerald, a 44-year-old interim worker from Dijon. “Then we go shopping in Paris to department stores, the Champs-Elysees” shopping “symbolic” “because we can not afford,” he added.

Forty-three people have been arrested in Paris since Saturday morning, including for carrying a prohibited weapon or participating in a group to commit violence.

A strong police force was also deployed Place de l’Etoile with the presence in particular of four armoured wheeled vehicles of the gendarmerie.

“For me, the big debate is rubbish. We want to talk more, we want actions, “said Charlotte, 34, from Albertville.

"Yellow vests" gathered in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Bercy
“Yellow vests” gathered in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Bercy, January 12, 2019 in Paris. (© AFP / Bertrand GUAY

Bourges, city of the “big gathering” of the “free yellow vests”

Other leaders of the movement, Priscillia Ludosky and Maxime Nicolle , for their part called for the first time since the beginning of the demonstrations at a large gathering in Bourges, according to them “in the center of France”.

Some 1,500 people were quietly gathered before the start of the demonstration, an AFP journalist said. “Do not stop dreaming,” said Maxime Nicolle.

The prefecture of Cher has banned all gatherings in the historic center, fifteen preventive arrests took place in the morning and the museums, gardens and public buildings of the city remain closed.

“We expect concrete measures, Macron’s ads are crumbs paid by taxpayers. He speaks of making efforts but it is up to them to do, there is so much abuse of privilege among elected officials, “denounces Carole Rigobert, 59, a life assistant from the Jura drive with her husband.

On Friday, the head of state praised “the meaning of the effort”, adding that “the troubles that our society is going through are sometimes due to the fact that far too many of our fellow citizens think that we can get” something “Without this effort being made”.

He called on the French to seize the “great opportunity” that represents the great debate, which should begin Tuesday but does not seem to convince the “yellow vests” for now.

80,000 police forces deployed

In Rouen , the procession bringing together some 2,500 people was enamelled with tear gas at the beginning of the demonstration . Two or three plainclothes policemen were punched by protesters before securing themselves. In Caen, about 2,500 people gathered, according to the prefecture, in an overall festive atmosphere.

In Strasbourg , the procession – 1,500 people, according to the prefecture – was enamelled with jets of projectiles and tear gas grenades.

They were also 700 to 800 in Nîmes to parade asking “the abolition of the Fifth Republic”, 3 to 400 in Nice “to protest against the dismantling of the roundabouts”, and other gatherings are planned everywhere in France in the afternoon.

The level of mobilisation of the police regained its level of mid-December with 80,000 police forces deployed, including 5,000 in Paris.

The images of the riots in the streets of Paris in particular on December 1st were shocking in France but also abroad, causing a drop in the number of tourists in the capital in recent months.

Since the beginning of the movement, 10 people have died on blocking points and more than 1,600 people have been injured, 58 of them seriously. Friday night, a man who participated in a dam filtering “yellow vests” on a highway in Belgium died by a truck

Rally of "yellow vests" rue Saint-Antoine, near the Bastille, January 12, 2019 in Paris
Rally of “yellow vests” rue Saint-Antoine, near the Bastille, January 12, 2019 in Paris. (© AFP / Ludovic MARIN)

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