With “ends of the month” impossible, with the feeling of being despised, kept at a distance from political decisions, the yellow vests, which demonstrated on Saturday in Paris, expressed a deep aspiration for democracy, equality and social justice.
Not all of them have put on a yellow vest, but yellow is to be seen everywhere, with humour, in many accessories: hats, boots, rain-wear, backpacks. On the square in front of Saint-Lazare station, this Saturday morning, Parisians and demonstrators from the provinces and suburbs converge in a friendly atmosphere, singing the same songs, united under the same slogan: “Macron démission! ” On the stairs of the station, Jean-Philippe watches with satisfaction this colourful crowd. This 53-year-old musician lives in Melun (Seine-et-Marne). “It’s nice that people who have been silent for so long are finally showing their distress and their hopes,” he smiles. There is a real frustration, a real suffering, but also a real desire. They can’t contain it through repression; that won’t last long. It is a beautiful moment in the life of the country. »
((“We no longer work to live, but to survive”))
On familiar ground, two young railway workers join the rally. They refuse to give their first names. They are just over 30 years old. The reasons for their anger: “Purchasing power is a priority. The first worker “can earn up to 2000 euros by counting the bonuses,” but that’s not enough. “Once I have paid the rent, gas, electricity and 400 euros of gas, I barely have enough food left,” he calculates. “I have no more hobbies. I can’t start a family: I couldn’t take it. We no longer work to live, but to survive. ” He joined the SNCF three years ago, is not a union member, has never participated in any strike or social movement. “This is for a good cause. We have the opportunity to express our dissatisfaction,” he says. We have been asked to work hard for years. Now that’s enough. You should demonstrate too! “His colleague, he lives in a couple, he is the father of a little girl. “Two of us make 3,000 euros a month. We can’t make do with that. The government must realize that people are tired of this. There are too many inequalities: the rich are getting richer and richer and we are being left behind. »
“I’m a nothing, I do a job of nothing for 800 euros”
The procession shudders, takes the rue Saint-Lazare and then turns right, towards Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. No Christmas windows today, the department stores have barricaded themselves. The signs set the tone for the mobilization: “Block the economy”, “Tax the rich! ”, ” Democracy “, ” An end to finance in power “, ” Restoration of l’ISF  “. At the crossroads, it is impossible to take Boulevard Haussmann, which is surrounded by blue rows of armoured vehicles of the gendarmerie. On the other side of the boulevard, the demonstration was quickly caught in a trap, immobilized.
Suddenly, groups of yellow vests appears, running from Joubert Street. The cat and mouse game begins. An imposing armoured vehicle equipped with a water cannon takes up position at the corner of rue de Provence and rue Caumartin. The CRS are locking down the whole area. A very small, frail woman in her sixties, with her features damaged by life, watches the scene with awe. “I’m starting to see Franco’s Spain,” she says. A Spanish immigrant, she has lived in France for eighteen years, refuses to say her name, her profession. “Write that I am a nothing, that I do a job of nothing, part-time, for 800 euros a month,” she creaks. “I have no car, no license, none of that. I’m here for the Navigo pass, which has gone up to 75 euros. We don’t make it to the end of the month, we don’t live anymore, we don’t buy clothes anymore. We want to express our pain. We no longer want finance to govern,” she explains. She mentions tax evasion, relocations, austerity that has brought the Greek, Portuguese and Spanish peoples to their knees. “We don’t want Europe at this price! ” She is shocked by Macron’s disdain for the French people: the nothing, the lazy, the refractory, the mafia, the alcoholics, the illiterate. “I am peaceful. But seeing this repression, hearing about it on the radio, on television, they only have the word pedagogy in their mouths, like parrots, it makes me angry. We are told again that Macron must take a height before speaking. Instead of getting higher, he’d better get down to earth! ” Before leaving, she makes a promise to herself: “For next Saturday, I will prepare a grievance booklet. »
The major boulevards are impassable. An organization with military appearance prevents any junction of the processions formed in the capital along the water-way. Groups of demonstrators walk randomly through the streets linking Haussmann Boulevard to Boulevard des Italiens. Armoured vehicles rushed towards Montmartre Boulevard, from where the first clouds of tear gas rose. At the edge of Helder Street, CRSs tackled two young women to the ground. For no reason whatsoever. The screams of a couple of lost American tourists discourage them from doing more. Haggard, the abused demonstrators remain seated on the sidewalk. They came from the Jura, with a group of yellow vests. “The knocks are nothing. You get used to tear gas grenades. What hurts is the politics they inflict on us.” They are cowardly, says one of their comrades, bitterly. With a clear look, a red beard for a few days, a black hat and a red umbrella in his hand, he is called Julien. On the back of his yellow vest, he wrote: “No to oligarchy, yes to real democracy. ” He is 36 years old, works as a climber-pruner for 1,500 euros a month. He dreams of permaculture, would like to build a low-energy house – beyond his means -, shows himself inexhaustible on the energy transition, evokes the species of birds that are disappearing. “We still have the opportunity to change that. In the future, it’s not fixed,” he warns. What is the outcome of the crisis that is currently shaking the country? “We must rewrite the Constitution, overthrow this regime and return power to the people, so that they stop treating us like this! »
They’re going to come back to Paris “until they hear us”
On the boulevard, a yellow vest waved a white flag. The tanks go up in the opposite direction towards Place de l’Étoile. Clashes broke out on Friedland Avenue. A strange atmosphere surrounds the chic districts, criss-crossed with police cordons. On the Place Vendôme, with its palaces, jewellery stores and luxury boutiques all shut up behind plywood panels. Riot gates block the entrance to rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré and all access to the Elysée. A compact gathering forms at Place Saint-Augustin. It is dispersed by a shower of tear gas grenades. The demonstrators withdrew to the square in front of Saint-Lazare station, where the same scenes were repeated. On Rome Street, Boula, with a red scarf around his neck, protested against the treatment of high school students in Mantes-la-Jolie, his city. This 33-year-old salesman, son of Moroccans, says he is “proud to be a yellow-vest and French”. “We grew up in poverty, all our revolts were crushed. Now, the whole of France is experiencing what immigrant families in the suburbs have always experienced,” he says. Taking cover in the only café in the area still open, Gaëlle and her son Joey, who had come from Cherbourg, told of their day of wandering in Paris. A blank year for him. With Parcoursup, he did not have a university assignment. “A private school is too expensive. ”An employee of Naval Group, Gaëlle supports herself and her son on her own, with a salary of 1,500 euros per month. “Yes, this movement changes things! It imposes an awareness of injustices, of social gaps,” she wants to believe, outraged that “the common people of the people are taken to be minions, just good for work, to be paid and to kept quiet”. “We must return to the values of solidarity, mutual aid and conviviality,” she enthuses. His son does not think otherwise: “Money must no longer come before the human being. »
2,000 Arrests, and How Many People Mutilated?
“To all the police forces mobilized today, thank you for the courage and exceptional professionalism you have shown,” Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter on the evening of December 8. “A stop has been put to the escalation of violence,” the Minister of the Interior enthused, stressing the “record” number of arrests. Nearly 2,000 throughout France. Not a word about the people mutilated. In Bordeaux, a man saw his hand ripped off by a dis-encircling grenade. In Paris, a young woman lost an eye, punctured by a Flash-Ball shot. Broken jaw for a demonstrator in Dijon. A photojournalist of the newspaper Parisien was hospitalized after being hit in the neck. Broken hand for one of his colleagues in the JDD. This is a non-exhaustive list. A total of 264 people were injured, according to the authorities.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator