Gilets jaunes: the French insurrection one year on
by Fraser Myers
Posted December 15, 2019
One year ago, 288,000 protesters took to the streets in over 2,000 locations across France. Dressed in their unmistakable hi-vis jackets, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) blockaded highways and petrol stations, occupied roundabouts and toll booths, and marched through town centres. The protests were initially sparked by a hike in fuel tax but they quickly came to embody a wider resentment towards the status quo. This weekend will be the yellow vests’ acte 53 – the 53rd consecutive week of protest to mark the anniversary of the movement.
The violence from the police has been extraordinary and out of all proportion. Between November 2018 and June 2019, according to figures compiled and verified by independent journalist David Dufresne and Médiapart, 860 protesters were injured by the police – 315 suffered head injuries; 24 lost the use of an eye; and five had hands torn off. Among these victims are not only protesters but also journalists and medics. Police have been filmed beating elderly and disabled people, as well as using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters. The main source of injuries has been ‘Flashball’ rubber bullets. This non-lethal weapon has been banned in every EU country except France. More…