Act 20 of the Yellow Vests took place on March 30th nationwide in France and happened against the background of last weeks brutal beating of a female protestor in Nice. My reports on Acts 18 and 19 can be read here and here respectively.
The demonstration in Paris was focused on housing expulsions, energy cuts, and expensive accommodation. It should be noted that by law in France people cannot be thrown out of their homes before April 1st, since the weather is still cold until Spring arrives. Here is a photo of the brochure I received at the prior protest in Paris on the 23rd advertising Act 20.
There were 2 protest events that took place in parallel, and then eventually merged together: a sanctioned march from Châtelet, and an unsanctioned one from Bastille. When both columns met up there was an almighty cheer, and then everyone marched through the streets up to Trocadéro as a part of the sanctioned march.
But along the way the police cut off the route on the fly, meaning the Yellow Vests had to invent a different way of reaching the end point of the sanctioned march.
Eventually some tempers started to fray and bottles and rocks started to be thrown at the police who accompanied the column. But since it was a sanctioned march the Yellow Vests had to restrain themselves (otherwise the police prefecture will not sign off an application for such a march).
At Trocadéro there were some clashes between Yellow Vests and the police, mainly in the format of glass bottle throwing being answered with flash bangs and tear gas.
But unfortunately the police had already encircled the square and did their usual “squeezing” procedure, which resulted in the Yellow Vests (and I) being forced to leave the area via the metro. Most of the shouting that can be heard in my videos comes from protesting Ghanaians, who were already at Trocadéro before the Yellow Vests came.
What happened next was very interesting, as I spent the next 15 minutes with a group of Yellow Vests, including one of the “leaders” (the person who organised today’s march), on the metro as they tried their best to keep the today’s protest alive.
The police were quick to react to their plans and closed the Place de la République metro station, meaning we all had to quickly leave the metro one stop before and go there by feet. Here is a photo I took of an info screen when I entered the metro in the evening – “On Saturday, March 30th, because of the Yellow Vests protest, certain stops/stations are closed from 08:00”. It means the police have a free hand to shut down parts of the metro whenever they want.
Once there the police had already arrived and simply stood and watched, knowing that the Yellow Vests who had come to République were not numerous.
After I had left, I found out that the protestors later tried to block the road and cause chaos, but where then dispersed by the riot police.
?Situation tendue et intervention des forces de l’ordre pour disperser les Gilets Jaunes sur la Place de la République à Paris. #GiletsJaunes #Acte20 #ActeXX #30Mars #YellowVests #Paris pic.twitter.com/WNNSCiWsrZ— Charles Baudry (@CharlesBaudry) March 30, 2019
Of course, protests took place in all major French cities, despite the fact that earlier in the week Macron banned protests in certain quarters of these cities (calling them “dead areas”). In the tweet below a Yellow Vest complains about being searched by the police 5 times just in the morning of March 30th – “It is total repression”, she says.
Une Gilet jaune au rond-point de Monthieu à #SaintEtienne : « J’ai été contrôlée cinq fois depuis ce matin. C’est la répression totale. » #ActeXX #GiletsJaunes #Loire pic.twitter.com/EBhptGpz3G— Le Progrès Loire (@Leprogresloire) March 30, 2019
In Avignon it was reported that the city centre had been closed off, and in order to enter it one must be searched by the police.
#Nc#GILETS_JAUNES : #Avignon se barricade depuis 6 heures ce samedi 30 mars 2019. Pour accéder au centre ville, une fouille au corps est réalisée. pic.twitter.com/B7DpTm61n6— Dominique De BEVEC (@de_Bevec) March 30, 2019
#laprovence#GILETS_JAUNES Avignon : les portes des remparts sous haute surveillance https://t.co/ikc2zyz5lI pic.twitter.com/2Uq039mzQt pic.twitter.com/3vsJNmDd3A— Dominique De BEVEC (@de_Bevec) March 30, 2019
When the Yellow Vests went to an area that was “forbidden” the police came down on them.
? La tension est montée d’un coup à #Avignon où les #CRS ont effectué une première charge après avoir effectué les sommations légales pour disperser les manifestants pic.twitter.com/2iv8oV0L8H— La Provence (@laprovence) March 30, 2019
L’évacuation musclée des manifestants se poursuit pour les pousser hors de la ville là ou la manifestation n’est pas interdite #acte20giletsjaunesavignon #avignon pic.twitter.com/2a3uNMZOfQ— France Bleu Vaucluse (@bleuvaucluse) March 30, 2019
In Rouen the Yellow Vests procession was focused on teachers, who protested against the National Education reform.
Un cortège très étendu qui se veut important entre les Gilets Jaunes et les syndicats pour l’éducation #GiletsJaunes #Rouen #ActeXX #YellowVests #Acte20 #GiletsJaunesNormandie pic.twitter.com/irgIL6496C— William (@William_Lacaill) March 30, 2019
In Toulouse the collective “There is no agreement!” and several Yellow Vests occupied the Crowne Plaza – a 5-star hotel located on place du Capitole.
Occupation de l’hôtel de luxe Crowne Plaza à #Toulouse par le collectif @Y_a_pas et des #giletsjaunes pour protester contre la gentrification du centre ville. pic.twitter.com/SVwbuKrgYb— A Rebrousse Poil (@ARebrousse) March 30, 2019
The non-violent occupation aimed to protest against the gentrification of the city center and against the end of the winter break. The police intervened and the demonstrators left the establishment calmly.
La police arrive, ça reste calme et le discours continue. Pour rappel la chaîne #CrownePlaza appartient au groupe #InterContinental qui détient aussi #hollidayinn où des travailleuses ont été victorieuses après 111 jours de grève l’an dernier. #GiletsJaunes #ActeXX #Toulouse pic.twitter.com/1c4V0mST9u— A Rebrousse Poil (@ARebrousse) March 30, 2019
In Bordeaux the Yellow Vests gathered around tents. The singer Francis Lalanne was also present, wearing a Yellow Vest.
Des Gilets jaunes sont rassemblés à Bordeaux autour de tentes, Jérôme Rodrigues et Éric Drouet sont présents sur place.#Bordeaux #acte20 #acteXX #Giletsjaunes #Gj #30marshttps://t.co/a6NaVeT3mO pic.twitter.com/hCcraNuY2S— Sputnik France (@sputnik_fr) March 30, 2019
He told RT France that the violence against the Yellow Vests during the mobilisations are “contrary to democracy”. “This is shame for our country,” he added.
“Chez nous on a pas de casseurs, on a des cassés” : Francis #Lalanne est présent à #Bordeaux aux côtés des #GiletsJaunes pic.twitter.com/ic69Rzt8AB— Lucas Léger (@lucas_rtfrance) March 30, 2019
A bank in Bordeaux bit the dust:
Banque dégradée il y a 15 minutes #GiletsJaunes #Bordeaux #ActeXX pic.twitter.com/behsZabPiz— Lucas Léger (@lucas_rtfrance) March 30, 2019
And a cop was given a friendly greeting:
#Bordeaux (33) début de l’#ActeXX des #GiletsJaunes une foule considérable défile dans la capitale Girondine. La manifestation dégénère nombreux affrontements #Acte20 #Giletsjaunes33 pic.twitter.com/HlBcj0nMWT— LINE PRESS (@LinePress) March 30, 2019
In Rennes teachers also protested against the various reforms led by the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer. Among their slogans: “The school of trust is not for childhood, it’s for finance” and “Blanquer, it is the schools that you bury”.
Énormément de #StylosRouges en colère à Rennes !#ActeXX #Acte20 pic.twitter.com/E45PggdQPx— Le Média (@LeMediaTV) March 30, 2019
And it was a similar picture in Rouen – the Yellow Vests gave the protesting teachers a guard of honour.
Les Gilets Jaunes font une haie d’honneur et applaudissent les manifestants de l’éducation #GiletsJaunes #Rouen #ActeXX #YellowVests #Acte20 #GiletsJaunesNormandie pic.twitter.com/Aq70I3VpoX— William (@William_Lacaill) March 30, 2019
In Tours the Yellow Vests defied the Macron’s regimes ban on protests in the city.
Début de la manifestation à Tours malgré l’interdiction de manifester dans certaines rues de la ville. Manifestation pacifiste #ActeXX #GiletsJaunes— Arthur Nys (@ArthurNys) March 30, 2019
@marionptak @F3Centre pic.twitter.com/GcyjJQoWd5
According to the Yellow Vests, an estimated 102,713 people protested on march 30th across France as a part of the movement. I will ignore the fake figures given by the Interior Ministry, for obvious reasons.
After what happened during Act 18 (March 16th) in Paris, the Yellow Vests are deliberately letting the media propaganda fade away before giving Macron another “ultimatum”. Hence why Act 20 was, and Acts 21 and 22 will be, calmer in comparison to Act 18 (although of course, banning protests on the Champs-Élysées had an effect). Act 23, however, will be very volatile. I didn’t see any “black block” during Act 20 in Paris, and I don’t think that this is a coincidence. They will surely come out again to “play” for Act 23. Concerning the situation in France in general, things have entered an impasse, with no prominent political figure or party able to offer the Yellow Vests what they want (even Mélenchon). And it must be said, in all fairness, that the Yellow Vests are no closer to obtaining their “Citizens’ Initiative Referendum” system of governance, for its implementation needs, in the very least, the dissolution of the parliament.
But what’s important to remember is that scandals can happen at any moment, as the beating of a 73-year-old woman in Nice showed. And this in many respects struck a strong blow to Macron’s “grand debate” PR stunt. After all, a woman holding a rainbow flag cannot be smeared by the media in the same way that a “black block” member in front of a smashed up Hugo Boss store can.
“Macron searches for an exit from the crisis”
In the meantime, the cost of living in France grows and grows, in all aspects. Every week one can notice how a product one regularly buys in the supermarket has become more expensive. And while the Yellow Vests protest, the propagandist media shouts “hooligans” and gives Macron the cover he needs whilst he covertly privatises all of France’s infrastructure and inflicts low blows on the most vulnerable in society – by, for example, raising the cost of electricity by 6%.
Lastly, the day after Act 20, propagandists like LCI and BFM TV were habitually boasting that “the Yellow Vests mobilisation has reduced”, in a desperate attempt to convince consumerist cattle that everything is normal, hiding from them information about the wave of anger that will sweep Paris on April 20th. In addition to this, Macron’s PR team cooked up another stunt (most likely designed for the EU elections in May) – “The president of the Republic commemorated the 75th anniversary of the battle of Glières”, an event that fellow criminal Nicolas Sarkozy also attended (but not Hollande).
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