Paris is Under Siege, French ‘Fed Up’ with Macron
Early Saturday morning the Champs-Elysees Saturday, Paris’ most famous boulevard reeked of tear gas. Clouds of the gas hung in the air, burning throats but not silencing the angry, rebellious crowds.
Noses dripping, eyes red and watering, demonstrators in their “look at me!” high-visibility fluorescent yellow jackets burst into song as they fled the gas, running past luxury boutiques boarded up overnight.
“To arms, citizens!” the yellow vests sang. “Form your battalions, let’s march!”
It was “The Marseillaise”the French national anthem.
The anthem now is an expression of defiance, sung by protesters at phalanxes of heavy-geared riot police. Regularly, the officers broke ranks to toss tear gas grenades, fire rubber pellets and make arrests, over 1,300 of them according to reports.
From all corners of the country, French protesters, men, women and students came by the thousands in trains, buses and cars. But once together in the capital, they shared fed up fury.
Fury at President Emmanuel Macron, 40 anni, policies; taxes, jobs that do not pay the bills, politicians they accuse of stuffing their own pockets, the elite, the banks, ‘the system’, and life overall under his government.
“Ras-le-bol” — which translates as “fed up” is their chant
But without clear leaders the protesters milled and roaming the streets like.
Being in Paris, being so visible in yellow vests, by bringing their grievances from France’s many pockets of neglect, the protesters made their point: We are here, we exist, w cannot, will not, be ignored any longer.
What they want is that the government be shaken up and not be governed by banks and fat cats, and that they be heard.
Initially, Saturday’s demonstrations in the French capital were peaceful. Police sealed off the presidential Elysee Palace, blocking surrounding streets with flat-bed trucks that unfurled giant metal barricades, forming a ring of steel around France’s seat of power.
Police opened gaps in the barriers when residents needed to pass.
The police layout had the effect of funneling demonstrators down usually busy but now eerily quiet streets toward the Champs-Elysees. To get there protesters passed through repeated police checks. Lines of officers searched bags and patted people down looking for weapons and gas masks. They let protesters keep their Yellow Vests.
Many has written slogans on the back, with demands as diverse as the protesters themselves: “Pacifist resistance,” ”Death to taxes,” ”Macron resign.”
As the crowd grew to thousands, the mood soured, and soon the air was thick with tear gas. The people ran, cursed and regrouped, again, and again.
In the chaos small groups of vandals smashed store fronts, set fire to cars, built and torched barricades, hurled whatever they could find at police and sprayed graffiti on store fronts.
On the window of 1 shop a slogan sprayed in blue captured the mood of revolt: “The plebs are going to sleep at the princes’ places,” it said. “Macron, we’re coming!”