The Yellow Vests’ anti-government protests, which have been rocking France since November, are far from dwindling as police continue to shower the angry crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets, one of the activists told RT.
Last Saturday marked the seventh week of Yellow Vest rallies held in Paris and other cities across France. The protests, initially sparked by fuel-tax hikes, grew into a wider movement demanding the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron and his government.
The number of protesters dropped during the holiday season, but the movement itself is “not waning down,” Yellow Vests activist Julien Duclos told RT France. The government gives people enough reasons to stay angry, and the upcoming taxes and spending cuts will “motivate” others to join the protests, he said.
Julien Duclos. Screenshot / RT France
In many cases, the rallies spiraled into violent standoffs with police who tried to disperse the crowds with batons, tear gas and rubber bullets. The protesters, in turn, pelted police with bottles and Molotov cocktails.
Overall, more than 4,500 people were detained in connection to the Yellow Vests activities.
The French police regularly attack the protesters in full riot gear, while doing their best to dispossess them of any means of protection, such as masks, goggles, and gloves, Julien explained.
They want us to go naked against Flash-Balls!” the activist said, referring to a type of a non-lethal shotgun used by police to launch gas canisters and rubber projectiles.
We’re virtually nude against heavily armed and equipped people.
Julien admitted that the protesters might be forced to change tactics at some point. “Every time we encounter a wall, we bypass it,” he told RT.
“It’s a problem for police: we’re not like a solid body, but like liquid, like water. It’s very hard to stop water with a colander.”
Christian Hartmann / Reuters
The Yellow Vests remain a largely grassroots movement without a unified structure or set of leaders, Julien Duclos noted. According to the campaigner, the protesters have quibbles with the national media.
The TV channels select random “amateur” protesters and pit them against well-versed politicians, making the televised debates “unequal,” Julien argued.
We would like to get real air time so we could organize ourselves and use the media to provide answers, proportionately to the media attack waged against us by the state.
Saturday’s protests descended into clashes with police in Rouen, northern France. Tear gas was deployed, and some demonstrators set fire to the entrance of the local office of the Bank of France.
Macron condemned the Yellow Vests-connected violence and declared a “social and economic state of emergency” in France. However, he has offered several concessions, including freezing the controversial fuel-tax hike and raising the minimum wage.