This Saturday 9th March, 2019, Yellow Vests are back on the street and the mobilisation is slightly up from the previous Saturday.
Weaker mobilisation since the beginning of the protest, aborted program in Paris, outbreak of claims and processions: the “yellow vests” had a slack on Saturday for their act 17, a week before their mobilisation crucial for the end of the great debate.
After almost four months of existence, the movement had already been receding for several weeks, according to official figures, systematically contested by the demonstrators.
Saturday, the mobilisation has reached a record low, with 28,600 demonstrators identified in France by the Ministry of the Interior, including 3000 in Paris. Even less than December 29: on the eve of New Year’s Eve, Act 7 mobilised 32,000 protesters. And very far from the ardor of the beginnings, when 282 000 people had invested roundabouts and cities of France on November 17th.
“Next Saturday, it’ll be big”
So, real blow of pump or breathing before the big national day of March 16th? “We are preparing for next Saturday, it will be big,” promises Christian, 67, near the Champs-Elysees. Act 18 of the movement will take place the day after the official end of the great debate and hopes to gather “the whole France in Paris” to launch an “ultimatum” to the government.
A week before this decisive deadline, the “yellow vests” however failed to impose their tempo Saturday in Paris.
They promised to occupy the Champ de Mars all weekend, but the project has been cut short: the police have prevented any installation near the Eiffel Tower on Friday night. Otherwise, a handful of “yellow vests”, including Priscillia Ludosky, gathered with environmental activists near the monument in the morning.
As for the event that promised to “converge all mobilizations” in the streets of the capital Saturday, it finally caused a split demonstrators.
In the aftermath of International Women’s Rights Day, a procession led by nursery assistants, dressed in pink vests, women mobilised against gender-based violence and wearing purple, and trade unions, travelled several kilometres in Paris on an authorised route. , before dispersing around 4pm0 without incident.
Meanwhile, several hundred “yellow vests” have preferred to remain massed at the top of the Champs-Elysées. A rally without major incident, but causing tension at the end of the day: tear gas canisters responded to projectile throws. Under the cries of “CRS buggers”, the police used their water cannons.
Around 7:30 pm, a few dozen protesters persisted on the sidewalks of the avenue, while the bulk of the troop had left the scene, according to an AFP journalist.
“It’s a Teletubbies demonstration today,” Toufik sighed in Paris. This thirty-year-old did not intend to remain mobilised all weekend, without wanting to throw in the towel. “If we stop, we will return to anonymity”.
Overall calm, the mobilisation in Paris resulted in sporadic incidents, resulting in tear gas and 19 arrests according to the police prefecture. At Roissy airport, “yellow vests” protested by dancing against the privatisation project of Aéroports de Paris, under the amused gaze of tourists.
In regions, the slogan remained the same: “we release nothing”, as the demonstrators in Bordeaux sang, according to an AFP journalist. In Toulouse, another hotbed of protest, dozens of women took the lead in the procession of some thousands of “yellow vests”, chanting feminist slogans early in the afternoon.
Missed in Paris, the convergence took place in Nice, where nursery assistants and their pink vests joined the crowd in yellow.
“We are not heard so we continue,” Anne told Quimper, in a procession of a thousand people that ended in clashes. For this 55-year-old Breton paramedic, purchasing power remains the number one claim. “Today everyone should be able to live off their salary, retirement or a disabled adult pension”.
With the end of the big debate in perspective, the Republic on the march has outlined signs to the attention of protesters: the presidential party suggested Saturday to reindex pensions on inflation and introduce “citizen law proposals”, on the initiative of a million people.
Other events were held without major incident in Lyon, Marseille, Saint-Brieuc, Rouen, Dijon, Lille, Strasbourg or Nancy, according to several journalists from AFP.
Scuffles, however, took place in Nantes, but also in Montpellier where 14 people were arrested and Caen with 12 arrests, according to the prefecture.
In Puy-en-Velay, whose prefecture had been burned on December 1st, about 2000 people marched, sometimes with projectile jets on the police. In the morning, they grabbed balls of petanque, baseball bats, a jerrycan or a Japanese sword, according to the prefecture of Haute-Loire.