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France: Arrests, Tear Gas and Water Cannons Deployed on Week 15 of Yellow Vest Protests

  • French anti-riot police form a line ahead of

    French anti-riot police form a line ahead of "yellow vests" protesters in Paris, France, February 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 February 2019

This time, another 70 were arrested nationwide and sprayed with water cannons while protesting Macron's government spending cuts.

France’s Yellow Vests showed no sign of tiring as the 15th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Macron’s austerity measures and repression took place across the country.

Yellow Vest Women March Throughout France Against Austerity

Around 46,600 demonstrators were out Saturday across France, including Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, continuing to call for an end to high taxes for the working and middle class and an increase to the minimum wage, among other demands.

Many within the movement say Emmanuel Macron is undemocratically censuring topics from his proposed two-month national debate supposedly meant to bring all parties to the table to discuss his policies and government spending.

"A debate means discussing everything. When you say we're going to debate, but not about that, that, that and that ... that's called 'shut up and listen to me,'" Maxime Nicolle, a Yellow Vest leader said on a YouTube video in January.

Five demonstrations took place throughout the French capital and about 46,600 demonstrators participated nationwide.

The weekly, massive marches began in late November over high fuel taxes but have morphed into a widely supported revolt against the administration’s neoliberal economic reforms and inequality. The movement has also splintered with more radical citizens in the movement rejecting any form of political representation and moderates looking for ways to participate in the May European Parliamentart election.

Macron did concede to rolling back the gas tax hike and awarding a salary increase to the police, according to Workers.org.

Protesters are not only rejecting austerity, but the police violence and state repression against them. Government officials announced that since the protests began on Nov. 17, 2018 to Feb. 14 of this year, 8,400 of those involved have been arrested. Of them, 1,800 have been convicted and another 1,500 protesters are awaiting trial.

French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner said two weeks ago that 1,300 police officers and firefighters have been injured and stressed that "degradation and aggression will be punished." At least 10 have been killed so far during the three months of demonstrations.

On Saturday, 28 people were arrested in Paris and police threw tear gas at protesters near the River Seine. Eighteen people were also arrested in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand, where 2,500 participated in protests, according to DW and 18 were taken into custody in Rennes where the police injured six protesters with pellet gun shots.

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