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Act XI: Yellow Vests plan night marches

Nocturnal Yellow Vest demonstrations, scheduled for Saturday night in Paris and in the provinces, are particularly feared by the Ministry of the Interior.

Published: January 26, 2019, 8:18 am

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    What does Act XI of Yellow Vests, scheduled for Saturday, January 26, in the province and the capital mean? Laurent Nunez, former Director General of Internal Security and now Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior, has promised “total and absolute vigilance” on the part of the police deployed in the country on Saturday.

    The police will have to adapt to best respond to a multi-faceted dispute, which last week brought together 84 000 protesters, according to the Interior Ministry.

    For good reason therefore, in addition to the traditional processions of Yellow Vests that will be marching through the streets of major cities of France, a night event will be organised in Paris.

    The event, created by the group Nuit Jaune, was the brain child by one of the top figures of the protest movement, Eric Drouet. The organisers want to launch a “citizen’s expression without violence”.

    The Paris demonstration is set to take at Place de la République, where the movement Nuit debout had taken root in March 2016.

    On the police side, the instructions given by the Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, are unequivocal: Police flashballs have already caused severe injuries among the protesters, but will be used again. The only difference is that the shooting will be filmed using pedestrian cameras worn by the police this time.

    Journalist David Dufresne described the serious injuries sustained by Yellow Vest protesters at the hands of police since the demonstrations began last November. Dufresne has been collecting video footage of police attacks on Twitter. He has posted over 250 incidents. Dozens of ordinary people have been mutilated, lost an eye or a hand.

    In Paris, more than 3 000 officers will be deployed, not to mention the reinforcement of a thousand BAC and other police units, and about 5 000 additional agents spread around national territory.

    “The feeling in the comments is that the demonstrations are good, but for most people this is not how things should move ahead,” said Drouet, who believes that people must continue to have processions for “the weakest”, those who “will not want to go down [to the street] if they do not feel safe”.

    Thus, a declared march should connect the Champs-Elysées to the Bastille via the National Assembly and Bercy. Another route suggested by Drouet, leaves the course of Vincennes, passes by the Grands Boulevards and the rue de Rivoli.

    Finally, a third route, proposed by Priscillia Ludosky, is a rally in front of the Foreign Ministry in solidarity with the Yellow Vests in remote territories. In response to a survey posted on his Facebook page, a majority of “subscribers” on Drouet’s page spoke out in favour of a 48-hour event, which would continue on through the night, as a “strategy of exhaustion”.

    The other top figure leading the Yellow Vests, Maxime Nicolle, has continued a tour of France. On Saturday, he plans to travel to Bordeaux, a meeting point of the Facebook event “Act 11: Bordeaux: Nocturne at Juppé” .

    Only about 500 people have said they wanted to participate so far, but it was in the march led by this popular personality of the movement that saw the most people gathering last week. In addition, another event, more unusual, has emerged: The call to create a human chain across France.

    Socialist mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has meanwhile changed her position on the establishment of a municipal police in Paris. She is currently open to the idea, after an audit on the daily security of Parisians, she said.

    The Socialist mayor Hidalgo told Le Parisien January 25 that she has changed her mind on the creation of a municipal police in the capital.

    Currently, Paris is the only French city where police powers are in the hands of the Prefect of Police, under the authority of the Minister of the Interior. This will soon change, according to Hidalgo, who has proposed the recruitment of municipal police in Paris, after a security audit.

    Unlike London or Bordeaux, these agents will not be equipped with firearms or electric impulse pistols but with “batons, [gas] cannisters” as well as pedestrian cameras.

    She justified the constitution of a municipal police with the attacks of January and November 2015: “Since then, the national police is more mobilized on these subjects and there is a whole field which does not receive enough attention: the issues of public tranquility, everyday life and how to enforce collective rules.

    “Keeping streets clean […] fights against garbage dumps or vandalism […] ensuring public tranquility…” said Hidalgo.

    This municipal police is expected to start operating in 2020, according to the mayor, with the recruitment of a total of 3 400 agents.

    But according to Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, “the Ministry of the Interior will take advantage of this creation to further reduce the number of police in the area around Paris.

    “It happened everywhere in France, where a municipal police was created, there is no reason that it is different in Paris,” he continued.

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