More than 50,000 “yellow vests” demonstrated Saturday in France for the 13th consecutive weekend, according to the Ministry of the Interior, rallies again marked by violence including in Paris where a protester had four fingers torn in front of the Assembly national.
— Nadège Abderrazak (@nadege_RTFrance) February 9, 2019
After three months of uninterrupted protest against the economic and social policies of President Emmanuel Macron, a total of 51,400 people mobilized Saturday throughout the country, including 4,000 in Paris, according to the ministry.
They were 58,600, including 10,500 in Paris the previous week, according to the ministry, whose figures are disputed by the “yellow vests”. A Paris count made by the Occurence law firm for several media, including AFP, had last Saturday identified 13,800 “yellow vests” in the capital.
This unprecedented movement, born on the social networks of the challenge of a new so-called “ecological” tax, has spread since mid-November throughout France and pushed the government to social measures and the launch of a major national debate.
In the capital, incidents occurred when the procession arrived in front of the National Assembly, where a protester had four fingers torn off, “according to the Prefecture of Police.
The cause of the injury remains uncertain. But, according to a witness questioned by AFP, it is about a “grenade of désencclement”, launched by the police, whereas demonstrators tried to drive the palisades protecting the Assembly.
Protesters have repeatedly protested the dangerousness of the arsenal used by law enforcement agencies, including de-encircling grenades and defense bullet launchers (LBD) involved in several serious injuries.
Incidents occurred on the course of the event, which arrived around 16:30 near the Eiffel Tower, in a very tense atmosphere.
Street furniture and bank distributors were broken, a dozen vehicles were burned, mainly luxury cars, but also a car of the Military Sentinel anti-terrorist mission.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner denounced on Twitter “intolerable attacks” and expressed his “indignation and disgust”.
At 6:45 pm, the police headquarters counted 36 arrests in Paris. There were 16 people on guard at 5:00 pm, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
In Toulouse (south) as in Bordeaux (south-west), cities where mobilization was very strong and marked by clashes several Saturdays in a row, thousands of “yellow vests” have demonstrated.
“It is beautiful the big debate, but we want concrete, less taxes, more purchasing power. We’ll be there every Saturday of the year if we have to, “said Bernard, a 56-year-old logistician in Lyon (south-east), where several thousand were on the streets.
In Dijon, another stronghold of the movement, the procession rushed to the cries of “Macron resignation”. Emmanuel Macron “does not speak, he makes a monologue,” said Nadine, 55, who does not believe in the big debate.
At least 2000 people marched in Lorient (west). On a yellow vest was written: “food +8 to 10%, pensions and pensions -3.5%. We are fed up”. “Macron resigns, Castaner in prison,” chanted protesters.
For Éric, a 40-year-old graphic designer and market gardener, “the demand that I support the most is the RIC (Citizen Initiative Referendum). We must give back the power to decide people, as in Switzerland.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, whose “anti-collector” bill was passed by the Assembly at the price of severe turmoil in the majority, was particularly targeted by the protesters. Controversial, this law, which must return to the Senate, provides for administrative bans to demonstrate, under penalty of six months imprisonment and 7500 euros fine.
They were 1,700 to demonstrate in Caen, 1500 in Marseille, as much in Montpellier, 1800 in Metz, between 1500 and 2000 in Lille. Eight policemen were slightly wounded by projectile jets in Saint-Etienne (south-east).
The government announced at the end of December 10 billion euros of social and fiscal measures and organized a major national debate without succeeding in appeasing this highly fragmented movement, without undisputed leader.
Very present in his great debate, President Macron has seen his popularity rise. But according to a survey released Thursday, 64% of French continue to “support” the movement of “yellow vests”.
The number two Italian government, Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Movement 5 stars, caused a diplomatic crisis between France and Italy meeting Tuesday representatives of “yellow vests”.