Police keep Bastille Day Yellow Vest protest gathering in check

·2-min read
© Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Police have encircled Yellow Vest protesters who gathered Thursday at the Place de la Bastille in Paris – a symbolic spot on the country’s Bastille Day national holiday – to protest against the government and increased cost of living.

Police had not authorised a march, so organisers called instead for a “static gathering”.

Even so, a few hundred protesters around the monument in the centre of the plaza and on the steps of the Bastille Opera house were tightly controlled by police officers keeping watch and containing protesters under a gruelling afternoon sun.

Some 12,000 police were deployed in Paris Thursday during the national holiday to “fight against delinquency and to prevent disruption to public order” according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Banned demos

In past years Yellow Vest protesters have tried to go to the Champs-Elysées to disrupt the military parade. In 2019, 170 people were detained after violent clashes between police and protesters at the end of the parade.

This year the Paris police prefecture banned demonstrations in specific parts of Paris between 13 and 15 July, notably around the Champs-Elysées.

The Yellow Vest movement, which launched in November 2018 after a rise in diesel fuel taxes, has continued to mobilise people in France frustrated by soaring inflation pushing up the cost of living.

Organisers of Thursday’s demonstration stated their goal of pressuring the government to lower taxes and freeze prices of essential goods, including energy.

There are also political aims, including the longstanding demand for the institution of a RIC, or Citizen’s initiative referendum, which would allow people to recall lawmakers who do not keep to their campaign promises.

There is also an emphasis on the healthcare system, with calls for salary increases for healthcare workers, and reopening hospital services that have been closed due to budget cuts.

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