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Act VI: Yellow Vests mobilized in four corners of France

Less numerous but just as determined, tens of thousands of French protesters gathered for Act VI of the Yellow Vests. Isolated incidents of violence attracted the attention of the government.

Published: December 24, 2018, 8:31 am

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    Expressions of violence include, lynching the police, doing the anti-Semitic quenelle with satirist Dieudonne, promoting the 1930s scenario of overthrowing the Republic and beheading an effigy of the President, mainstream politicians complained.

    The spokesman of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Griveaux, tweeted that behind such gestures hide the “cowardly, racist, anti-Semitic, putschists”.

    According to the figures of the government, some 38 600 participants from all over the French territory, were determined to express their disagreement with the government on December 22.

    Some rallies were marked by isolated violent incidents, particularly against journalists or police officers. But it should be noted that the police used force against protesters, including tear gas, with 220 arrests made.

    This latest episode of mobilization was also marked by various headlines: the decapitation of a puppet representing Emmanuel Macron in Angoulême and supporters of Dieudonné in Paris giving the anti-Jewish salute.

    The government has ignored the demands the movement, such as the citizens’ initiative referendum (RIC) or the resignation of the head of state, and focused on incidents and other isolated acts instead.

    Like Benjamin Griveaux, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe complained about the “unheard-of violence against police officers” or what he described as “anti-Semitic gestures in the heart of Paris”, calling for “a unanimous condemnation and criminal sanctions”.

    The Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner in a tweet hailing the professionalism of the police, and blasted some demonstrators who, according to him, were “animated by hatred of institutions”.

    Visiting Chad, where he met with French soldiers at the N’Djamena military base, Emmanuel Macron also spoke about the incidents.

    “It is obvious that the most severe judicial responses will be given. It is now order that must reign, calm and peace. Our country needs this. It needs peace, unity, a sincere commitment to strong collective causes and we must appease the divisions,” said the head of state.

    Yellow Vest Jérôme Rodriguez, on Cnews, dismissed the government response. “We’re going to magnify five minutes of violence […] which is the exact opposite of what I saw today,” he said in response to Benjamin Griveaux’s tweet, adding: “I am neither racist nor violent, I just want to claim our rights.”

    While Christophe Castaner claimed to have seen “a real slump in mobilization” with “less than 39 000 protesters” in France, the Yellow Vests made their voice heard throughout the country again, with rallies particularly strong in Bordeaux, Nîmes, Lille and Dijon.

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