Giuseppe Sandro Mela
«Paris and Bourges, the town at the centre of France, have both been identified as locations for Act 9 of the ‘yellow vest’ protests set to take place this Saturday as another weekend of demonstrations looms in France.
It’s nearly the weekend which means another day of protests for the gilets jaunes, with two locations pinpointed for this Saturday’s events, dubbed ACT 9 of the movement.
Both the French capital and the capital of the Cher department at the centre of France, Bourges have been mooted as meeting points for the weekend’s demonstrations.
And while Paris has some experience, to say the least, of the ‘yellow vest’ protests, the local authorities in Bourges are nervous about what Saturday may bring.
It was prominent ‘yellow vest’ Priscillia Ludosky who called on gilets jaunes to make Bourges the epicentre of the mobilisation.
Ludosky explained that the city in the centre of France was “a little less known to the police” which would lower the chances of the protesters being circled by the police force.
The city has been chosen “to confirm our unity and to allow everyone to be at equal distance leaving the big cities”, according to the Facebook group for the event.»
«“Un rassemblement de tous au centre pour confirmer notre unité et permettre à tous d’être à distance égale en partance des grands villes !”, pouvait-on lire sur une page Facebook liée au rassemblement des gilets jaunes pour leur acte IX de samedi en France. Ce lieu central, quel est-il ? Il s’agit de Bourges, une ville de 66.500 habitants. Toutefois, la préfète du département du Cher, dont Bourges est le chef-lieu, a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’elle interdisait tout rassemblement de gilets jaunes dans le centre-ville. “Je prends un arrêté pour interdire tout le centre historique de la ville”, a-t-elle dit sur BFM TV.
Selon cet arrêté, consulté par l’AFP, “l’ampleur prévisible de cette manifestation qui n’a pas fait l’objet d’une déclaration en préfecture (…) est sans commune mesure avec les précédentes marches pacifiques qui se sont déroulées dans la commune de Bourges”.»
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Non esiste pace fino a tanto che regna il tiranno.
«French authorities and police in Paris fear Saturday’s yellow vest protest in France will attract a more violent fringe element and lead to the kind of violent scenes witnessed in the French capital before Christmas»
«French police said Friday they expect planned “yellow vest” demonstrations this weekend to be bigger and more violent than a week ago»
«forcing Macron from office»
→ The Local. 2019-01-11. Police in Paris fear bigger and more violent ‘yellow vest’ protest
French authorities and police in Paris fear Saturday’s yellow vest protest in France will attract a more violent fringe element and lead to the kind of violent scenes witnessed in the French capital before Christmas.
French police said Friday they expect planned “yellow vest” demonstrations this weekend to be bigger and more violent than a week ago, as the protest movement which had shown signs of fatigue at the end of 2018 gains fresh impetus.
National police chief Eric Morvan told France Inter radio “we expect a return to a level of mobilisation seen before the Christmas holidays”, for the ninth consecutive Saturday of nationwide protests, which have been characterised by clashes with police and destruction of property.
On January 5, around 50,000 people wearing the movement’s trademark high-visibility vests demonstrated in Paris and other cities, an increase over late December but far below the nearly 300,000 that turned out for the inaugural protest in mid-November.
Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said he expected the demonstrators in Paris to outnumber the estimated 3,500 that attempted to march on the National Assembly last week.
“We think…the behaviour among the groups present will be marked by being more radical and they will be more tempted by violence,” said the Paris police chief.
Delpeuch said that faced with the unpredictability of the protests the objective of the police was to be “spread out, mobile and reactive and to make arrests as soon as trouble flares.”
Police will carry out stop and searches on protesters to make sure they are not carrying potential weapons or even “protective” equipment which police believe suggests a willingness “to go on the offensive”.
Some 80,000 police will be on duty across the country including 5,000 in Paris, which is similar to the number of officers mobilised on weekends in the run up to Christmas.
The head of security in the Cher region announced that the “yellow vests” would be banned from demonstrating in the historic heart of Bourges, the central town on which some had set their sights Saturday.
Last week’s protests were marked by a return of the clashes and destruction seen at the height of the protests in late November and early December.
In two particularly shocking scenes caught on video, a group of demonstrators used a forklift to ram the doors of the ministry of government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux, and a former professional boxer battered two police officers guarding a bridge over the Seine river.
“Week after week we have observed a drift towards increasingly violent behaviour,” Delpuech told France Inter radio, adding that symbols of state power had become the chief targets.
The “yellow vests” accuse the police of fanning the flames with their liberal use of tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades against demonstrators.
They also point to a video showing a police captain in the southern city of Toulon beating demonstrators in support of their claim that the violence cuts both ways.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government is taking an increasingly tough line with the revolt, which began in mid-November in the rural heartland over fuel taxes and quickly ballooned into a wholesale rejection of the president.T
The demonstrators accuse 41-year-old Macron and his government of being deaf to the concerns of ordinary citizens and of favouring the rich over the poor in their fiscal policies.
Some are intent on forcing Macron from office.
→ The Guardian. 2019-01-11. Gilets jaunes: small French town braces for mass demonstration
Bourges closes museums and removes parking meters as as 80,000 police mobilise nationwide.
More than 80,000 police officers are mobilising across France for the ninth weekend of gilets jaunes anti-government protests as Emmanuel Macron prepares to launch a three-month public debate process that he had hoped would channel protesters’ anger away from the streets.
Demonstrators were expected in Paris on Saturday where the government fears a repeat of last weekend’s violent skirmishes with police. More than 5,000 police will be stationed in the capital and all local officers have been called back from leave.
There could also be large protests in the small town of Bourges in central France after gilets jaunes groups online suggested its central location made it easy to reach and that it had less of a police presence.
The town of 66,000 people – fearing clashes and violence – has closed museums, cleared building sites, removed parking meters and covered up electronic signs at bus stops. The local police chief on Friday banned any demonstration in Bourges historic centre, meaning protestors would have to keep to boulevards on the edge of the town.
Many shop owners in the town said they could not afford to shut their businesses on the first Saturday of the January sales and would stay open until the last minute, closing only if there was a security risk – but fearing the majority of customers would stay away.
Gilets jaunes demonstrators have continued to barricade roundabouts across France. The government said about 60% of speed cameras across France had been damaged or destroyed since the start of the protest movement in November. Officials said the speed cameras that do remain in use had shown more drivers breaking speed limits, presumably thinking they would not be caught.
Although the gilets jaunes protests – named after the yellow hi-vis jackets worn by demonstrators – began in November as a revolt against fuel tax, local politicians said fury over this summer’s move to cut speeds to 80km per hour (50mph) on many secondary roads had played an important roll in mobilising protests in the countryside.
“People are still complaining about it in the regions,” Christophe Jerretie, an MP for Macron’s La République En Marche party in Corrèze, said of the speed limits. Some protesters want the speed limit changes scrapped but the government believes the measure, which will be evaluated fully next year, has already saved hundreds of lives.
The nationwide “great national debate”, which the president suggested in December as a solution to gilets jaunes’ complaints that citizens do not have enough say in policy, will launch on Tuesday. But it would be an unprecedented exercise that has proved complex to organise.
The head of France’s national debates commission, Chantal Jouanno, withdrew her participation in Macron’s debate this week amid outrage over her €14,666 monthly salary, leaving the government scrabbling to reorganise proceedings.
Questions remained over whether the debate process would be focused on town-hall meetings and whether the government would take into account what was said.
The topics to be discussed included the tax system, reform of state institutions as well as democracy and citizenship. Fears have been raised that groups such as the powerful lobby against same-sex marriage would use the debate to reopen discussion on society issues. But the government said topics such as same-sex marriage, which came into force in France in 2013 amid massive street protests, would not be up for discussion.
“It’s out of the question to roll back on abortion, the death penalty or equal marriage,” the government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.
Macron and his party want to hark back to the big door-to-door consultation on the nation’s problems that he set up before his presidential bid in 2017. But an Odoxa poll found seven out of 10 French people did not think the debate, which begins next week, would be useful for the country.
In the meantime, the government has focused on law and order measures in response to violence at gilets jaunes protests as a way to try to win back support for the centrist, pro-business Macron, particularly among voters on the centre-right.
The prime minister has promised new laws, including setting up a register of rioters, similar to that used to deter football hooligans, to force them to report to police and prevent them from joining demonstrations.
Human rights lawyers have said some of the proposals could go against the French constitutional right to protest. But the government has been convinced that showing “authority” was crucial to win support back to Macron before European elections.
Two recent polls have shown approval ratings for Macron and the prime minister rising again after a period of decline – although approval ratings for the president remained beneath the symbolically low level of 30%.
A counter protest against the gilets jaunes demonstrators has been scheduled for 27 January in Paris.
Annual Cevipof polling released in Le Figaro on Friday showed what the political scientist Bruno Cautrès called the highest level of “mistrust and anger” at French politicians and state institutions in 10 years of polling.