Some 80 000 policemen were deployed this weekend in France against the Yellow Vests as a security response by the Prime Minister, allegedly to put an end to the violence committed on the fringes of the demonstrations.
Two days after Act VIII by the Yellow Vests, notably marked by incidents in Paris and in the provinces, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised firmness by the government faced with “vandals”.
In a news interview broadcast on TF1, on January 7, Matignon’s tenant Philippe warned that the perpetrators of acts of violence “will never have the last word”.
He announced a reinforcement of safety device measures for the next mobilisation of the Yellow Vests with 80 000 police officers, or 1,6 policeman per Yellow Vest, according to figures supplied by the Ministry of the Interior.
In addition, a new law toughening sanctions against “thugs” has been announced, as well as the creation of a special file to deny them access to demonstrations. But the opposition complained about the clampdown.
Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the Communist Party, lamented that the strict security response provided by the Prime Minister was a way of arresting those citizens who simply wanted more purchasing power.
Like their left-wing counterparts, conservative politicians also complained about the measures announced by the Prime Minister. Florian Philippot, president of the Patriotes, described them as “ineffective” and “anti-freedom”.
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, president of Debout France, has chosen a poll to make fun of the announcements of Edouard Philippe. “In your opinion, by deploying 80 000 police officers for 50 000 demonstrators, the government really wants: a) 1.6 police officers per Yellow Vest! b) Make fun of us!”
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, unsurprisingly welcomed the intervention of his colleague Philippe: “Fully committed behind Edouard Philippe to modernise our tools of maintenance. Order, strengthen our mobile force and adapt our system to this ultra-violence that deviates from the freedom to manifest and defiles our republican pact.”
At the end of Act VIII of the Yellow Vests, the Secretary of State for the Interior Laurent Nunez had indicated that a “reflection” was “in progress”. Among other things, he mentioned “the possible measure of having a file, to have a tightening of the criminal legislation in a number of circumstances”.
The same day, the head of state Emmanuel Macron had notably denounced the “extreme violence”. The day was marked in Paris by the evacuation of the spokesman of the government Benjamin Griveaux after a violent intrusion into the building housing his offices on January 5.
A group of Yellow Vests had used a forklift to enter the court of the State Secretariat to the Prime Minister.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, the police force carried out 345 arrests, while 281 people were taken into custody.