France’s Gilet Jaunes Movement Rages into Week XIII 

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Last Saturday, around 51,000 anti-Macron protestors wearing their yellow vests took to the streets of Paris, Lyon, Lille, and other cities throughout the south of France in what marked the thirteenth straight weekend of demonstrations in the country.

The gilets jaunes, or yellow vest movement, began demonstrating during mid-November of last year as French protestors responded to what they saw as unfair fuel tax hikes. Since then, the movement has morphed into a widespread revolt against French president Emmanuel Macron, who many of protestors see only as representing the rich.

Although the number of yellow vest protestors this past weekend was markedly less than in previous weekends, the same certainly couldn’t be said for the amount of violence.

A younger man taking pictures lost four fingers after riot police fired grenades, which scatter rubber pellets and emit tear gas, at protestors who were attempting to storm the National Assembly building near the heart of Paris. One of grenades apparently exploded in the man’s hand.

This marked the second major injury during the last two weeks of protests as another protester suffered a devasting eye injury when they were shot in the face by a rubber bullet.

Protestors set ablaze an anti-terrorism unit vehicle, garbage cans, a motor scooter a number of luxury cars near the Eiffel tower this weekend. Some shop windows were also smashed. French police have said around 40 individuals were arrested following widespread rioting and the targeting of crucial government and private infrastructure.

But this weekend violent clashes didn’t only occur between protestors and the French police. Groups of rival yellow vest protestors were seen turning against each other.

In the city of Lyon, opposing political factions inside the Yellow Vest movement were involved in a brutal street brawl. According to the Daily Mail, a protestor who had witnessed the clash told reporters that, “A Right-wing group of Yellow Vests attacked a Left-wing one, and the result was carnage. They were using any weapons they could lay their hands on, and in the end the police had to break them up.”

Protests were also seen in the Latvian capital of Riga over the weekend, where activists demonstrated in front of the French embassy. The demonstrators waved the red-and-white Latvian flag and were heard shouting, “The French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep.” 

Over the course of the last few months, several lawmakers from inside Emmanuel Macron’s party have received threats of violence. The home of Richard Ferrand, the president of the National Assembly (French Parliament) and close ally of Macron, was targeted by activists in Brittany.

Macron responded to the activists targeting of Ferrand in a tweet by saying, “Nothing justifies intimidation and violence toward an elected official of the Republic.”

Written by Julian Hein

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