Tens of thousands of Yellow Vests demonstrated in France for the thirteenth weekend in a row last Saturday—despite new laws passed last week to curtail protests.
France’s interior ministry said 51,400 people were involved. But prominent Yellow Vests released their own “Yellow Number” figure of 116,000.
Around 6,000 marched in Toulouse, 5,000 in Bordeaux and Paris, 4,500 in Lyon, 3,000 in Dijon and around 2,000 in Marseille, Metz and Montpellier.
Police’s brutal response to the protests resulted in a protester’s hand being blown off by a teargas grenade.
According to an eyewitness, the person who lost their hand was a photographer trying to take pictures of people protesting around the National Assembly building.
“When the cops went to disperse people, he got hit by a grenade in the calf,” said Cyprien Royer. “He wanted to bat it away so it didn’t explode by his leg and it went off when he touched it.
“We put him to one side and called the street medics. It wasn’t pretty—he was screaming with pain, he had no fingers—he didn’t have much above the wrist.”
Martin, a factory worker in Toulouse, told Socialist Worker, “In our city it was one of our biggest protests so far.
“It was very determined, and there is constant debate now about what demands to put forward and to how to fight.
“We aren’t going away.”
Last week’s day of strikes, called by two union federations for demands linked to the Yellow Vests, was an important beginning.
The CGT union federation said, “In more than 200 cities in France, nearly 300,000 people—whether their vests are red or yellow—hit the streets to express their common demands—an increase in the minimum wage, wages and pensions, for more social and tax justice, and an improvement in public services.”
Strikes were limited in most regions, largely because for months the union leaders have attacked or ignored the Yellow Vests.
But there is clearly a potential for more action, and for the mood of revolt to spread further into the unionised working class.