Paris ‘yellow vest’ protests lose steam after Emmanuel Macron concessions
Posted On July 14, 2020
Defiant “yellow vest” demonstrators took to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Saturday, but the anti-government protests appeared to be losing steam after major concessions by President Emmanuel Macron and another deadly terror attack on French soil.
Riot police fired tear gas and fought with protesters on the Champs Elysées and elsewhere in the capital, but these were minor incidents compared with the widespread rioting and looting that took place a week ago.
More than 66,000 took part in demos across the country, half the number of a week ago, and in Paris 2,200 people participated, far fewer than the 10,000 who turned out last Saturday, according to interior ministry figures.
On Place de la République in Paris, a few hundred yellow vests congregated in rain and near-zero temperatures after being pushed out of the Opera district by riot police.
They unfurled a banner with the slogan: “We want a president of the poor”, a jibe at Mr Macron who many French accuse of being a “president of the rich” who has neglected the small-town and rural voters who make up the bulk of the yellow vest movement.
The former investment banker, who is facing the biggest crisis of his presidency, unveiled a series of concessions on Monday to defuse the yellow vest crisis, which takes its name from the high visibility jackets all drivers in France are legally obliged to keep in their cars.
He was hoping that the package of tax and minimum wage measures for low-income workers would help bring calm to the country after more than a month of clashes and disruption.
His move appeased many French, with public support for the yellow vest protests dropping from more than 80 percent to around 50 percent.
But many others, who say the new measures will still not enable them to make ends meet, were set on continuing the protests to try and squeeze more concessions out of the 40-year-old president.
“His (Macron’s) taxes will cancel out the rise in the minimum wage,” a 49-year-old computer technician, who declined to give his name, told The Telegraph on the Place de la République.
He said he had no intention of giving up the fight, and rejected the government’s call for calm in the wake of a terror attack this week in Strasbourg in which a gunman shot dead four people before being caught, two days later, and shot dead by police.
“That’s merely an excuse to try and keep us off the streets. The attack and this protest have nothing to do with each other,” he said.
About 8,000 police – four times the number of demonstrators – and 14 armoured vehicles were deployed across Paris for Saturday’s demonstration, and many streets in the city centre were honeycombed with checkpoints where officers in riot gear checked bags and coats for weapons and helmets.
Police said 112 people were taken into custody in Paris.
The number of deaths linked to the protest rose to seven after Belgian police said a man accidentally crashed his car on Friday night into a truck that had stalled at a yellow vest roadblock on the Franco-Belgian border.