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Scenes from Yellow Vest anniversary, Paris. Screenshot from YouTube

French police prepare for first anniversary of Yellow Vest movement

One year after the first action of the Yellow Vests, France's domestic central intelligence service [Service central du renseignement territorial, or SCRT] and the Intelligence Directorate of the Paris Police Prefecture (DRPP) anticipate a "return to the fundamentals of the initial movement".

Published: November 16, 2019, 12:04 pm


    Between 5 000 and 10 000 people are expected in Paris.

    A few hours before the Yellow Vests were expected to return, the executive and the police hierarchy already knew that mistakes would cost them dearly and the tension was palpable, insiders say.

    To try to avoid the mistakes of last year, some 2100 CRS and mobile gendarmes were mobilized for Saturday, 1700 Sunday, and 18 teams of BRAV [brigades de répression de l’action violente] on motorcycles were deployed in the streets of Paris.

    On the face of it, the Ministry of the Interior is trying to show that it has taken the possibility of potential risks into account. Behind the scenes, the police and gendarmes do not hide their fatigue at having to face their 53rd “Yellow Vest weekend”.

    Everyone is eager to avoid the same events as in 2018.

    For this weekend of 16 and 17 November, in general, two trends of action have emerged, confided a policeman: “The return to the original spirit of the movement, by manning the roundabouts, in an undeclared way. And also, a desire to organise a dozen spectacular actions against symbolic places.”

    If the year 2018 had given rise to attacks on prefectures, tax centers or strategic oil depots, the most determined activists want to attack supermarkets for this anniversary. Chain shopping centers that are considered to have an “irresponsible” attitude towards breeders and farmers in their pricing practices, are going to be particularly targeted, said a police commander of the SCRT on Friday, November 15.

    Also, the person of the President of the Republic seems to be a clear target for criticism from the demonstrators.

    “The risk of a crisis is considerable,” warned a police commissioner in Paris, in anticipation of the first anniversary of the grass-roots movement.

    French artisans, traders and entrepreneurs with less than 10 employees are overrepresented in the movement, according to Obsoco, the L’Observatoire société et consommation. According to the study, 63 percent of Yellow Vests have a very low level of trust in political parties, local elected officials, the European Union, the judiciary and the media, compared to 52 percent of the whole sample. Vis-à-vis the big economic actors – large companies, retail and the agri-food industry: 61 percent displayed a very low level of confidence.

    The survey also revealed that there are “more men among the Yellow Vests most involved” and that they are a little older than the average (47 years on average against 44 years the whole of the sample questioned).

    Geographically the inhabitants of the Paris region are only slightly more under-represented (13 percent against 19 percent for the whole population) than those who live more in small and medium-sized cities (from 2 000 to 100 000 inhabitants). In addition, Obosoco found that in the south-west of the country, members of the movement are overrepresented.

    On its Twitter account, the police headquarters of Paris drews up a preliminary report at 11:30 on Saturday of the action of the police. It mentions “33 arrests, 1204 preventive controls and five verbal charges on forbidden perimeters”.

    At the Porte de Champerret in Paris, in the midst of tear gas, the situation was tense in the morning. RT reporters attested that the air was difficult to breathe as clashes continue between protesters and police on the spot. Security forces quickly moved in on the Paris ring road to dislodge the Yellow Vests that had begun to block traffic at the Champerret gate.

    The situation was also very tense on the Place de l’Italy where a rally was planned. Barricades were set on fire.

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      It looks like the pseudo-anarchist elements are disrupting the Yellow Vest anniversary march, and that they actually started the night before. From the discussion in this article, the Paris police prepared for such disruptive action, though probably not as early as it occurred. It remains uncertain to what degree the police have been able to keep the disruptive elements, including counter-demonstrators, in check, and allow the march to take place. No word so far on marches in other cities.


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