Tens of Thousands of Yellow Vests Demonstrate Across France, Hundreds Arrested, Police Violence Injures Many

Tens of Thousands of Yellow Vests took to the streets across France for the nineteenth consecutive Saturday. Demonstrators demanded president Macron leave office and called for more significant changes to the government, including for the Constitution be reformed to empower citizens to request and hold national referendums.

A 73 year old woman, Geneviève Legay, had her skull fractured in a police charge. The incident was captured on video by demonstrators and journalists. Legay is in intensive care with bleeding next to her brain and is reported to be in stable condition. Ms. Legay is a spokeswoman for an anti-globalization group, her daughter said she had come to defend the right to demonstrate.

At least 233 people were arrested in France on Saturday during the nineteenth act of the yellow vest movement and 172 remain in custody, government officials reported on Sunday.

Many of the arrests came as the government instituted new measures to criminalize protesting in the country, including bans on protests where demonstrators have now held rallies for 19 consecutive Saturdays. The government announced the military would be deployed to protect government buildings and various locations.

In addition to implementing protest bans and deploying military troops, the government signalled to police to increase their aggression against demonstrators, giving them more leeway to attack demonstrators and rolling back suggestions to fire fewer rubber bullets at people.

According to government figures, more than 40,000 people demonstrated Saturday across the country, with 5,000 in Paris.

The yellow vest protests were sparked on November 17, 2018 as a result of a tax hike on fuel. Ever since then, demonstrations expanded into a popular movement, with calls for the Macron government to leave office, saying his policies favor the rich.

 

 

Photo: “Les Gilets Jaunes” by Patrice CALATAYU is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0