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French “Yellow Vests” Statement About Events on March 16 in Paris

Last updated on 28th July 2019

It’s done: March 16th will remain engraved among the important dates of the social movement of the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes).

Faced with political, media, and economic violence, it is necessary to say things clearly, without hypocrisy.

Let’s start with the facts: it’s true, many GJ came to Paris for this Act 18 in order to go beyond the system and undermine the management of “public order”. They may not have been in the majority but they were quite numerous and determined to achieve results. These thousands of GJ were not all a part of the black bloc tactic. There were many first-time GJ with only their vests, masks, and goggles. There were also some protesters in a bloc, whether in black k-way and/or in a yellow vest.

Above all, all the protesters were totally involved in the demonstration of the day. No split into groups of “nice GJ” and “bad rioters” has ever appeared. The vast majority of the demonstrators present supported, or at least accepted, the offensive actions, without necessarily wanting to do the same.

Several videos show the arrival of a bloc of thirty protesters being greeted by a guard of honour and applause at the Place de l’Etoile, in the middle of the morning.

And yes, it shocks you and may bother you. But this is the reality of France in 2019: tens of thousands of citizens today agree that the fight is done in an offensive way. You can discredit them, call them demolishers, accomplices, hooligans, racists, or anarchists. You can try to take away all humanity.

But the reality is quite different: it is not for pleasure that these people accept (and/or encourage) violent actions. It is by necessity. It is not for the violence itself but for its consequences in the social struggle. Consequences, inevitably uncertain and sometimes dangerous, but which constitute a more positive horizon than the current social status quo.

Sincerely, deep down, do not you see that it is because of these excesses that act 18 had a very important repercussion in the political and media world? That the same number of demonstrators in a declared rally where “nothing happened” would have been totally denied and despised by these same politicians and media agencies?

It is not the GJ who understand only the language of violence and power, it is the current system. In this society, where you have to be the most ferocious and the most powerful possible, how could one hope to change the situation by remaining weak and docile?

The mass media are only interested in a movement where there are “sensational” images to bring viewership ratings. Two days before Act 18 a meeting was held at the Bourse du Travail between movement figures and intellectuals. The place was packed and hundreds of people stayed outside. Why not talk about this constructive and peaceful initiative? Why, for several weeks, have thousands of GJ gathered in the cities without any of the media being interested? Because there is nothing left to “sell” to viewers.

On the political side, in 17 weeks, the only period in which the government seemed to make concessions was during the most violent acts of late November and early December. There, as if by chance, after almost two months when the government completely despised the social issue and the Yellow Vests, Macron shortened his vacation to take things in hand. We know that he will not take social issues head-on and that he will address the issue of GJ solely through his lens of violence. But at least the question comes back to the table.

Let’s be lucid: political power does not respect the deep reasons for the anger of its people. What interests it is calming this anger, for its own tranquility and that of all the powerful.

Macron says that those present yesterday on the Champs-Élysées want to “destroy the Republic”. Because the Republic is Fouquet’s? Cartier? The banks?

This government, like all the previous ones, has denigrated millions of citizens, left them in increasingly insupportable precariousness, even as the billionaires continue to get richer and richer. In the last four months that the Yellow Vests have been fighting, how many people have been put out of work in order to make their business more profitable? How many retirees have fallen further into precariousness? How many patients could not receive the necessary care because of a lack of means?

How many deaths did this liberal policy generate in four months of struggle? The figure is impossible to know but it is obvious that it is colossal.

Ultra-liberalism kills, hurts, and destroys lives and families. It’s not about “big words” to make fairy dust. It’s totally factual. And many Yellow Vests in the countryside or in the suburbs know it very well since they live it daily.

So, if you think that citizens who destroy a bank or make a barricade are enemies of the Republic, but those who shed jobs and enrich themselves on the miseries of these same citizens are the friends of the Republic, moreover – their protector, then we have a totally different vision of what the Republic should be.

If the violence of a ravaged luxury shop bothers you much more than people who die or who fall into poverty, then yes, we do not speak the same language.

Your moral compass is not the one that lives in us. To be selectively moral is to be immoral. You are immoral. And you can treat the GJ as enemies of the Republic, but they will remain much more moral and much closer to the values ​​of the Republic than you.

And stop being offended by the violence of a social movement when you deny and totally ignore this movement, except in cases of violence.

Only then can we discuss morality.

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