Tensions between the yellow vest protesters and the police have boiled over again, as the protests in France become more violent. Demonstrators seem to be losing faith in President Macron’s attempts to solve the important issues that have divided the country.
In December, Macron attempted to appease angry protesters with $11.2 billion in tax cuts and other benefits for low-wage pensioners. However, his attempts fell short at quelling the unrest.
This week, up to a half million people participated in 10,000 different meetings spread across the country, to attempt to come to an agreement about the taxes and other vital economic policies that sparked the initial protests. The talks, which were called the “great debate” were ultimately considered a failure.
“We have been patient, but now we want results,” Yellow Vest Laurent Casanova told AFP.
Following the failed talks, the 18th week of intensified protests was unofficially called the “ultimatum rally.” In the ultimatum rally, the yellow vests raised the vests and began looting, starting fires, fighting with police and starting mayhem throughout the country.
The video below shows brutal arrests made by police in the recent wave of protests.
Ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence?pic.twitter.com/pXmC81yoEQ
— Bellingdog (@Bellingdawg) March 16, 2019
In the following video, rescue crews can be seen rushing to a newsstand that has been set on fire.
— ITV News (@itvnews) March 16, 2019
The police have also been ruthless during the protests.
A producer for Ruptly filming the demonstration was injured when he was hit by a police projectile, while several others have been injured or even lost their lives during face-offs with police.
62 year old yellow vest protester Frank Leblanc says that Macron is full of hot air.
“It was hot air. It was useless, and it didn’t achieve anything. We’re here to show Macron that empty words are not enough,” Leblanc said.
Another protester, Francine Sevigny, said that the time for talking was over.
“We’re marking the end of the great debate … Macron has given us no great solutions,” Sevigny said.
Many people in France who feel disenfranchised by the system say that they appreciate the rioters and thugs among them because they get things done. Marie, a mother of two from Seine-et-Marne who wouldn’t give her surname, doesn’t think that much would get accomplished by peaceful protests alone.
“I’m glad there are the thugs because without them our movement wouldn’t get any attention. We need the violence so we can be heard,” said Marie.
Protesters reportedly went after high value targets that were symbols of wealth and privilege. Upscale shops with big brand names were hit especially hard with looting during the riots.
“Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, smashing and pillaging shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste, and tossing mannequins out of broken windows. A posh eatery called Fouquet’s, which is associated with politicians and celebrities was vandalized and set on fire. A vehicle burned outside the luxury boutique Kenzo, one of many blazes on and around the Champs-Elysees,” According to the AP.
The targets in these riots show that many of the people involved in the protests are disenfranchised by the economic system and feel that they have no other way to be heard or make any changes in society. Even with the government making political concessions, the people in the yellow vest movement seem dedicated to radically changing society in a way where the vast majority of people no longer have to suffer under poverty. It can be expected that more groups like this will rise throughout the world, in response to a growing gap between the rich and the poor along with an increasingly high cost of living.
Many of the yellow vest protesters say that they will give up until Macron resigns and allows a major restructuring of the government. Many others do not want radical changes, but instead, want more benefits and welfare opportunities from the government. Since the movement is so large, with over a half million people showing up to protest, there is a diverse set of opinions that span a wide spectrum of political beliefs. There are people from many different political and ethnic backgrounds involved with the protests, all flying under the same banner and fighting for the common goal of peace and prosperity for the citizens of France.
Featured photo: Zakaria Abdelkafi AFP