Paris is burning.
David Vives reports for The Epoch Times that anti-government protests in France are growing ever larger as an estimated 125,000 yellow-vested demonstrators in Paris took to the streets yesterday, despite Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s concession last Wednesday to scrap the tax hike.
The 4-week long protests, dubbed the Yellow Vest movement because of the yellow vests worn by the protesters as a symbol, began online in May 2018 as a protest against a gas tax hike (of about 25 cents a gallon) and metamorphosed into street riots against high taxes, eroding living standards, and what many see as the government’s indifference to the concerns of France’s regions and ordinary people. The movement has spread beyond France to Belgium.
Note: Since 2008, all motorists in France are required by law to have high-visibility yellow vests in their vehicles when driving, as a safety measure should the driver be required to exit the vehicle on the roadside.
In Paris, a ring of steel of trucks and reinforced metal barriers surrounded President Emmanuel Macron’s Elysee Palace, although Macron himself has gone AWOL, unseen in public all last week.
More than 1,200 people were arrested before the Saturday protest began in an effort to mitigate violence as much as possible. The December 1 riots had damaged the Arc de Triomphe and injured 130 people. Police also confiscated from protesters anything that could be used as protection such as helmets, protective glasses, and cartridges of saline solution for the eyes.
Saturday’s Yellow Vest crowd was overwhelmingly male, a mix of those with financial grievances and apparently experienced vandals, who tore steadily through some of Paris’ wealthiest neighborhoods, smashing and burning.
Demonstrations have been taking place elsewhere in France as well. Police and protesters clashed in the southern cities of Marseille and Toulouse. About 89,000 security forces are deployed across the nation, including military, local police, and special police, who are authorized to engage in physical contact if necessary, as well as use batons and flash-balls, a non-lethal hand-held weapon.
What the French government doesn’t say is that they’ve called in the European Union (EU) military, as indicated by armored vehicles with the EU’s blue-and-gold-stars flag.
Below is a cell-phone video, showing two EU armored vehicles being deployed against the protesters in Paris.
Among Saturday’s protesters was retired General Christian Piquemal in a yellow vest. He said, “France has been a beacon for the world, it was a country with eternal vows, and today it’s totally decaying. We need to find ourselves again as people who share common values.”
Political columnist Eric Verhaeghe says that “The base of the yellow vest movement is ordinary people … who are desperate,” and that the heart of the movement is libertarian, wanting less government and more freedom, with aims similar to the original Boston Tea Party and the modern Tea Party movement in America.
Meanwhile, the French government has taken a leaf from the American Left’s playbook by blaming the Yellow Vest protests on Russia.
Bloomberg reports, Dec. 9, 2018, that France opened a probe into possible Russian interference behind the country’s Yellow Vest protests, after reports that social-media accounts linked to Moscow have increasingly targeted the movement, and that Russian-linked sites, e.g., Sputnik and RT, have reported a mutiny among police, and of officers’ support for the protests.
According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy — a unit of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. which monitors pro-Kremlin activity — about 600 Twitter accounts “known to promote Kremlin views” have begun focusing on France, boosting their use of the hashtag #giletsjaunes, the French name for the Yellow Vest movement. French security services are looking at the situation, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday in a radio interview.
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