The Strategist

French Yellow Vests movement changes clothes to black

11/18/2019 - 09:04

The yellow vest movement attempted to draw attention by holding its 53rd Saturday demonstration. The initially peaceful march resulted in pogroms and arson. 147 people were detained, 129 of whom were arrested. A year after the movement's founding and the action in Paris on this occasion showed that the radicalism is growing in proportion to the decline in the number of participants.

This Saturday, the yellow vest movement participants celebrated one year of their unexpected and triumphant appearance on the streets of France. Last fall, on November 17, 2018, they gathered 287,100 people and declared themselves as a powerful, broadly supported movement. Since then, they have taken to the streets 52 times, fetched substantial concessions from the state and gained international fame.

28 thousand people took part in the demonstration all over France. The movement has weakened more than tenfold; still, there were 4.7 thousand people in Paris.

The main procession was expected to pass from the Place d'Italie in 13th district to the Gare du Nord has not moved anywhere, but has quickly turned into pogroms and arsons. Paris Prefect Didier Lallement was forced to announce cancellation of the demonstration due to growing violence. He called on the peaceful participants to leave the square surrounded by police as soon as possible.

On the square, there were almost no yellow car vests, which became a symbol of the protest year ago. Many people were dressed in black and behaved not as demonstrators, but as belligerents.
The 13th district mayor's office is renovating the square, which has allowed the demonstrators to dismantle the fences to build barricades, set fire to the construction vehicles and destroy the monument to World War II hero Marshal Alphonse Juin. Hooligans in black jackets with their faces covered kept fighting with the police, throwing stones and preventing firefighters from extinguishing giant fires, overturning and setting fire to cars. Bus stops, billboards, shop windows and banks were broken.

Leaders of the yellow vests, including Priscillia Ludosky and Jerome Rodriguez, were greatly dissatisfied with the prefecture's ban on marches, considering it a provocation by the authorities. Participants in the failed demonstration shared their disappointment on social media: “The anniversary was stolen from us”.

Many admit that radicalism among the demonstrators is depriving them of the citizens’ support. And since conspiracy theories have been popular with the "vests" from the very beginning, they see it as the government’s clever manoeuvre by to portray protesters as hooligans.