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News > France

Yellow Vests Decry Millions in Donations for Notre-Dame While 'People Starving'

  • Police officers are seen during a demonstration on Act XXIII of the yellow vests movement in Paris, France, April 20, 2019.

    Police officers are seen during a demonstration on Act XXIII of the yellow vests movement in Paris, France, April 20, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 April 2019

"I would like us to get back to reality," said Ingrid Levavasseur, one of the spokesmen of the movement, speaking on French BFM TV last week.

Yellow vests protesters took to the streets of Paris ​​​​​​ and other cities of France Saturday for the 23rd consecutive national protest against the policies of the right-wing government of Emmanuel Macron.

'Yellow Vest' Act 22 Reaches 30,000 People Despite Repression

According to the Ministry of Interior of France, 9,000 protesters took to the streets Saturday in Paris. Hundreds were arrested and dozens injured as violence broke out between demonstrators and police.

The Notre Dame accident revived the anger of some protesters because of the hundreds of millions of euros raised immediately after the incident to restore the Cathedral. 

"When I see people who give money for Notre-Dame, it's true Notre-Dame is a historical monument, it's a heritage, we have to protect it. But when I see that they have released so many millions, billions of euros in a few days, when we see people who are starving, I wonder [...]. And besides, they are people who pollute! Who gives the money? Total, Shell, Auchan [...] because they will be zero-rated from the carbon tax. They will give money; we will congratulate them. They are the biggest polluters in France and even in the world!," told Coutant to Sputnik. 

A placard depicting French President Emmanuel Macron is pictured on a wall of a building during a demonstration on Act XXIII of the yellow vests movement in Paris, France, April 20, 2019 | Reuters

The French oil giant Total offered 100 million euros, actions that were matched by French luxury group Kering's CEO Francois-Henri Pinault and LVMH head Bernard Arnault. The billionaires l'Oréal group also provided money to help the reconstruction of the cathedral. 

"Billions should also be given to the poor, to help the environment, to promote biodiversity," said Redde to Al-Jazeera newspaper, holding a sign that read, "Millions for Notre Dame - and what about the poor?"

"But Macron and this government only want to help the rich, so we can't stop." 

An informal spokesman of the Yellow Vests movement, Ingrid Levavasseur declared on BFM TV: "I would like us to get back to reality," speaking about the millions of euros multinationals offered to restore the cathedral.

President Macron is expected to unveil new policies aimed at responding to the social movement on Thursday. Measures were revealed by the press last week.

Macron is expected to reconsider his decision to cut a "fortune solidarity tax" and to reduce taxes for the middle-classes.

Macron is also set to announce the closure of the highly prestigious Ecole Nationale administration, a college that trains future high-ranking officials for the country. Many have criticized the school as a way to form "formatted" elites only to a "single thought." Macron himself graduated from that school.

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