by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog
The following text was written (and translated by me) by the “Cerveaux non disponibles” Yellow Vests group after March 23rd’s protest event, which I reported about here. Of course, in many respects there is a chess game ongoing here. Macron thought that by sealing off the Champs-Elysees he would prevent the Yellow Vests from repeating what they did on March 16th – firing a proverbial, and in many respects literal, missile up his ass. But in reality, by doing this he drove himself into a corner, since now the Yellow Vests (and their partisan allies) will try to reclaim it, either by force or by outmanoeuvring the regime with asymmetrical actions. The next 3 weeks are critical – on the 30th there will be a demonstration against home evictions in Paris, which I will attend, on the following Saturday it is planned to gather in Toulouse, on the 13th of April it is planned to all gather in Bordeaux, and on April 20th the next Yellow Vests barrage of artillery is planned for Paris. Unless Macron has a lobotomy and starts implementing fully-fledged “democracy” before this day, we can only brace ourselves. I know that the “Black Blocks” are preparing a new strategy against “Manu” as I type.
In the meantime, the prices and tariffs in France are augmenting all in unison, and the Benalla affair continues without an end in sight. I am hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
“Once again, the Yellow Vests thwarted the government’s plans to stop the movement. Neither the call to the army nor the prohibitions to protest or the increase in fines could stop the mobilisation. Nor could the demonization campaign following the degradation of March 16th.
Castaner cries out victory, believing that the new apparatus has (finally) allowed protesters to express themselves without causing violence. But the reality is different.
Already, the first victory of the Yellow Vests is to have managed to block the most beautiful avenue in the world without even having set foot on it. Several hundred forces mobilised, shops were closed and totally barricaded (see Fouquet’s in steel). All of this without having to go to the Champs Elysees. Even if the political and economic power will not recognise it, it is something strong with a non-negligible impact.
Because the objective of the Yellow Vests is not to destroy a bank or a luxury store, but to disturb and harm the powerful. In this sense, the Champs Elysees district was certainly more affected by Act 19 than by the previous one. But it is obvious that all of this has been made possible because of the actions of Act 18.
The other victory (and it is no less of a victory) is the one against fear. The fear of the police response (or military) with verbal provocations suggesting that there would be no more limits given to the police. Fear also of being arrested, condemned and/or charged. Despite this extremely anxious climate, tens of thousands of people demonstrated everywhere in France, sometimes in prohibited perimeters. Without violence, but in a radical and determined way. Nothing but their presence is now a strong and radical act in this society that tramples human rights day after day.
Despite the heavy artillery out of the government, there were more Yellow Vests on the street yesterday than in Act 18. The picture is strong and clearly indicates that Macron attempted poker move hasn’t worked. And it will not work. The Yellow Vests wanted social responses to their social movement. They will only stop when this is the case. And now some reforms will no longer suffice. The poker game is a loss.
One of the images of this act 19 will remain that of Geneviève Legay – the 71 years old spokesperson of Attac 06, who is currently hospitalised following cranial fractures. She dared to protest despite the prefect’s ban. She dared to stay upright and dignified, with a “peace” flag in her hand, facing the dozens of CRS. She didn’t run when the police charge arrived. She now pays the price.
Some might believe, and surely hope, that this tragedy can calm the heat of the Yellow Vests. Because of course, it’s scary to imagine that such an event could happen to you or your relatives.
But those who think this have not understood anything about the movement. A new strength is born among these thousands of people. A hope too. A desire for freedom and justice. Faced with this, fear will not be enough to save the government and financial powers.
A torrent of hope and revolt cannot be stopped by police blocks. It impedes it, but it does not stop it. The government must now deal with a part of its population that has risen and will not lie down soon.
Act 20 will be like the previous ones: unpredictable and full of surprises. Yellow Vests (including in the Ile de France) want to place this Saturday fight under the sign of the right to housing, since March 30 will mark the end of the winter truce and the return of evictions. Thousands of citizens, especially in urban areas and in the suburbs, bear the brunt of exorbitant rents in their daily lives. And this, in conditions of life sometimes indecent, like the drama of the rue d’Aubagne in Marseille. Why not take advantage of this act XX to try to occupy places in the city, and make spaces of reception, dialogue, and struggle?
The movement of the Yellow Vests is a river, which sometimes splits into small streams of initiatives and actions. And that regularly finds itself in one torrent of anger and hope.