Socialist Worker

Yellow Vests take to streets despite cop violence and trials

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2642

The Yellow Vests movement continues despite brutal repression

The Yellow Vests movement continues despite brutal repression (Pic: Thomon)

The French government and the police are saying the Yellow Vest movement is all but finished.

Police violence has had the effect of reducing numbers. But the fall in turnout is not nearly as great as the authorities pretend.

They said just over 10,000 took part across the whole of France last Saturday—the 14th consecutive week of protests.

Yet more than that protested in just five demonstrations. There were around 5,000 in Paris.

At least 2,000 gathered in Pontivy in the Brittany region. A similar number took part in Nantes.

At least 2,500 were on the streets in Bordeaux.

Thousands were on the street in Toulouse, carrying placards such as “Fâche mais pas facho” (Angry but not fascist) and “capitalist dinosaurs, tremble, the world will change”.

The uncompromising banner at the head of the march said, “Only death will stop us.”

Other events—some of hundreds, some over 1,000—were held in places including Marseille, Montpellier, La Rochelle, Caen, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Alençon, Rennes and Le Mans.

If the strikes planned for next month grow stronger they can combine with the Yellow Vests to win further gains.

Boxer handed hefty sentence

Christophe Dettinger, a former French boxing champion, has been convicted for assaulting two police officers and sentenced to 30 months in jail.

He was filmed on 5 January defending fellow Yellow Vest protesters and punching cops. The footage was a huge social media favourite.

Another protester, Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour, spoke as a witness in Dettinger's defence at the trial last week.

"He was seeing a woman of 47 kilos being hit and seeing my oldest son being hit. He couldn’t stand it,” she said in court.

Eighteen months of the sentence are suspended, and he will be able to serve the 12 months in what is called “semi-liberty”. This means he spends nights in a prison but is free during the day.

He is also banned from staying in Paris for six months.

It is a disgrace that he has been sentenced at all while the cops who maim and brutalise protesters are lauded by the authorities.

Organiser's trial 

High-profile Yellow Vest Eric Drouet appeared in court last Friday. He is accused of organising the 22 December and 2 January protests without obtaining official permission.

Drouet said in court that he doesn't consider himself a protest organiser. His lawyer complained to the court of arbitrary arrest and a political trial against his client.

The Paris prosecutor requested a 500 euro fine and a one month suspended prison sentence.

The call for a suspended sentence may sound mild, but Drouet is due in court again on 5 June for allegedly “carrying a prohibited weapon"' at the 22 December rally. It was a stick.

A suspended sentence now could be a real one by the summer.

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