The demonstration of the yellow vests was marked by strong tensions between the participants and the police force. A suicide slogan is scandalous.
After more than five months of mobilization, thousands of “yellow vests” came down the street Saturday for an act marked by a renewed tension in Paris before Emmanuel Macron’s response to the debate, expected Thursday .
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the number of protesters declined across the country (27,900 against 31,100 the previous week) but almost doubled in the capital (9,000). According to their estimates, the “yellow vests” counted more than 100,000 protesters in France.
Reunited to launch a new “ultimatum” Emmanuel Macron, several thousand people walked in Paris from Bercy, in the southeast of the capital, under a bright sun. The first clashes erupted in the early afternoon near Bastille, before focusing on the Place de la République, the arrival point of the procession.
During the afternoon, the square was regularly plunged into a cloud of tear gas while protesters threw bottles and other projectiles in the direction of the police. Several banners have been vandalised, noted an AFP journalist.
“Shame on those who have committed such an ignominy”
Boosting the climate of tension, some protesters shouted “Suicide, you commit suicide” to the police, while the police are affected by an unprecedented wave of suicides. “Shame on those who have committed such an ignominy”, tweeted the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner.
« Suicidez-vous ! », scandent certains manifestants aux forces de l’ordre place de la République pic.twitter.com/rqtFmnvuBO
— Lucas Burel (@L_heguiaphal) April 20, 2019
Honte à ceux qui se sont livrés à une telle ignominie !
Soutien total à nos forces mobilisées, et à leurs familles.
L’immense majorité des Français sait ce qu’elle leur doit.https://t.co/B8HZYV96NQ
— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) April 20, 2019
More than 20,000 preventive controls
After several hours of face-to-face tense, the rally dispersed slowly around 19H in the Republic Square where traffic had resumed, AFP journalists found.
The police carried out 227 arrests and more than 20,500 preventive checks in Paris , according to the prefecture.
At 7:00 pm, 178 people had been detained in the capital, including six minors, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Despite the fears of the authorities who had deployed 60,000 police and gendarmes in the country , the clashes were incommensurable with those of the first “ultimatum” of Saturday, March 16, during which the Champs-Elysees had been ransacked.
“Despite the will of some demonstrators to break again (…), the work of the police and their professionalism have helped protect property and people,” said Mr. Castaner in a statement.
A vision however contested by the mayor of Paris whose first deputy Emmanuel Grégoire denounced damage “very important” and criticised a security device “not satisfactory”.
“Living with dignity”
The Paris demonstration had begun in calm around traditional claims for more purchasing power and direct democracy. Another procession, starting from the basilica of Saint-Denis and much less followed, took place without any incident.
“We want to live with dignity. I’m retired but I’m here for generations to come, “said Joel Blayon, a former fisherman.
The suspicion was palpable a few days measures that the head of state must unveil and which he had to postpone the announcement because of the fire of Notre Dame.
French flag in hand, Antoine, leader of a small company, believes that the measures that have already leaked in the press (re-indexing inflation of small pensions, abolition of the ENA …) “oppose retirees to assets, the poor and the rich, the regions against the nation “.
The fire of Notre-Dame Monday night was also in the minds, including the hundreds of millions of euros promised to rebuild the cathedral.
“It’s a good thing this money for Notre-Dame but when we see what we can unlock in a few hours …”, summarised Jean-François Mougey, retired from the SNCF from Mulhouse.
“I really like Notre-Dame, I’m Catholic, but the greatest heritage is the hand and the head that work,” insisted Jean-Marie, a retired professor from Auxerre.
“We’re worth a cathedral”
“We are worth a cathedral,” also proclaimed a sign of “yellow vest” in Montpellier, scene of clashes and mobilised Saturday like other cities.
In Bordeaux, stronghold of the movement, some 1500 “yellow vests” marched in peace, channelled by police forces.
In Toulouse, thousands of people walked in the center of the city, theater late afternoon skirmishes. “I’m scared but it will not prevent me from coming,” said Claudine Sarradet, retired from Education.
In Marseille, the “yellow vests” were a thousand at the start of the event on the Old Port.
As in recent weeks, the authorities had banned demonstrations emblematic places in several cities, including the Champs-Elysees and the outskirts of Notre Dame.
According to the Interior, 112 people were verbalised Saturday for trying to defy these taboos in the capital.