Chants calling for “Macron’s resignation” were heard clearly by the president. After his fateful journey down the famous avenue in Paris, he then joined the presidential platform, on Place de la Concorde. Several leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, were present at his side for the start of festivities.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was quick to respond to the popular dissent and dryly noted in a tweet: “Macron booed in Paris during the national holiday for the capture of the Bastille. How sorry I am. But the important thing is to reward Carola [Rakete] and attack me and the Italians.”
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) July 14, 2019
The Macron administration has expressed support for the captain of the Sea Watch-3 vessel, Carola Rakete, after she was detained by Italian authorities on charges of human trafficking.
Also, on the sidelines of the parade on July 14, clashes erupted between the police and protesters in Paris.
The festivities were marred by violence. Some 152 people were arrested on the sidelines of the military parade on the Champs-Elysees, after clashes with the police, said the police headquarters of Paris.
The majority of the offenses reported by the police were linked to cases of the “organisation of undeclared demonstrations”, “acts of violence against persons in public order”, “damage to public property” or “carrying of prohibited weapon,” according to BFMTV.
Also arrested on Sunday were leading figures of the Yellow Vest movement Éric Drouet, Jérôme Rodrigues and Maxime Nicolle. Rodriguez and Nicolle were even placed in custody for “organising an illegal event,” said the Paris prosecutor’s office according to FranceInfo.
Juan Branco, lawyer for Maxime Nicolle, said they were released in the middle of the afternoon and their files were closed. The prosecution also said that Eric Drouet was placed in custody for “rebellion”. Photos and videos, in the media and on social networks, showed the arrests.
The lawyer and former spokeswoman of the leftwing party Insubordinate France (LFI) Raquel Garrido was moved by the fate of Rodrigues. “It was not enough to piss him off, to maim him for life,” she lamented on Twitter.
Eyewitnesses spoke of heavy tension during the arrest of Drouet as Yellow Vest supporters – not wearing yellow vests – closed in on the police officers. “Can we know on what basis the authorities are thus questioning citizens?”, LFI MP Alexis Corbière wanted to know.
Yellow Vest lawyer François Boulo called for respect for the “rule of law” in France. “In a state of law, police violence is condemned […] and political opponents […] are not arrested without any reason,” he said.
On Twitter, other personalities also expressed their indignation at the arrests. Rassemblement Nationale (RN) MP Gilbert Collard joked in a tweet about Republican origin of July 14, evoking the Old Regime practice of the lettre de cachet.
Such letters, signed by the king of France, and countersigned by one of his ministers, were closed with the royal seal, or cachet. They contained orders directly from the king, often to enforce arbitrary actions and judgments that could not be appealed.
The most famous lettres de cachet were penal, by which a subject was imprisoned without trial and without an opportunity of defense in a state prison or an ordinary jail, or often faced confinement in a convent or the General Hospital of Paris, transportation to the colonies, or expulsion.
In this respect, the lettres de cachet were a prominent symbol of the abuses of the ancien régime monarchy, and as such were suppressed during the French Revolution.
Fortes tensions sur les Champs-Élysées. Tout semble avoir commencé lorsque des policiers se sont approchés d'Éric Drouet. De nombreux #giletsjaunes (sans gilet) sont présents. Macron a été fortement hué. #14juillet pic.twitter.com/5gjqWSBtXI
— Pierre Tremblay (@tremblay_p) July 14, 2019
Blogger Olivier Berruyer said political opponents in France were treated unfairly. “When it happens in Venezuela or Russia, it’s breaking news, with lamentations by pseudo-philosophers,” he said.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters. According to the police headquarters, confirmed by AFP, “a man who had complained of chest pain”, was transported in absolute urgency to a hospital. “The individual was part of the crowd who attended the military parade on the Champs-Elysees.”
His discomfort “was not the result of a police intervention,” the prefecture added. But according to a Russian Sputnik correspondent, several people were injured as a result of clashes between the police and the protesters.
Macron together with European leaders watched the military parade which saw units from other European nations participating. Forces from the Paris-based European Intervention Initiative — which include troops from a range of EU countries — marched down the Champs-Elysées.
Not only Merkel, but the Netherlands’ Mark Rutte, Belgium’s Charles Michel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, greeted the parade alongside Macron.
Prior to the police reaction, the protesters started destroying the barriers installed on the streets, trying to build barricades while chanting Yellow Vest slogans.
14 juillet: Emmanuel Macron hué au début de son passage sur les Champs-Élysées pic.twitter.com/c7N6qorO2Q
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) July 14, 2019
The French president’s icy reception on arrival at the parade on Sunday was done in a sustained manner which is rare for Bastille Day.
A police commissioner tried to physically push away Yellow Vests who had verbally confronted him.
The police commissioner facing the shrieks and cries of protesters, suddenly advanced to repel them. In the face of the crowd’s reaction, the official was quickly protected by other police officers, reported The Huffington Post.
FranceInfo reported that some 200 Yellow Vests left the area of the Champs-Elyseés in the early afternoon, and headed to the district of Ternes.