By Charlie Kimber
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French ban on protests fails to stop resistance

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Issue 2695
Thousands have come out since the ban on demonstration
Thousands have come out since the ban on demonstration (Pic: O Phil Des Contrastes on flickr)

Paris is set be a capital of protest and resistance on Saturday.

But the French government was poised to ban demonstrations if it considered them not “useful to the nation”.

The Yellow Vests, who have been holding weekly protests since November 2018, are making a big push to take to the streets against police violence.

They are highlighting the appalling scale of repression inflicted by the state. This includes 35 people blinded in an eye by being hit by “flashball” projectiles and at least five protesters have had a hand torn off by explosive grenades.

The Yellow Vest march will merge with demonstrations by workers and others protesting against a series of attacks from president Emmanuel Macron.

Macron recently bypassed parliament and rammed through a worsening of pensions without a vote.

A group of rank and file workers who were central to the rail and Paris public transport strikes have said they will join Saturday’s march. They announced, “The historic Yellow Vests movement has courageously opposed the government for 15 months already, a government whose malicious leaders obey and execute the wishes of the employers and the bourgeoisie.

“The Yellow Vests were present during our battles, demonstrations and actions. It seems obvious that we need to bring together our anger and establish common demands.

“Let’s bring the spirit of the Yellow Vests into our strike.”

Climate activist Greta Thunberg will be in Grenoble on Friday for a student strike and then in Paris on Saturday to lead a demonstration over environmental chaos.

This could join the Yellow Vests.


Last Sunday on International Women’s Day around 60,000 people marched in Paris and 8,000 in Toulouse against violence against women, and against Macron and his government.

Nadia, a public transport striker, told Socialist Worker, “Every march at the moment becomes a place of unity.

“We marched against patriarchy last weekend but also against the whole way society is going.

“And next Saturday we are going on the streets again.”

It is highly likely that the state will deal harshly with Saturday’s protests.

Citing the spread of coronavirus, the government has banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people. However, the government said “the state representatives in the regions and the local authorities will put together a list of events useful to the life of the nation” which will not be banned.

It was unclear as Socialist Worker went to press what this will cover.

Already a council workers’ demonstration in Beauvais in northern France was threatened with criminal prosecution.

Rightly the CGT union went ahead anyway, arguing that as the workers were allowed to go to work together they had the right to stand in the city square.

It’s more important than ever that the different fights against Macron come together.

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