In Commune magazine, Rona Lorimer provides an absorbing on-the-ground account of recent “gilet jaune” (yellow vest) protests in France, which have been going on weekly for almost two months. Lorimer not only offers a gripping first-person narrative of the demonstrations and riots that have beset Paris. She also reflects on the unusual political composition of the uprising and what it means for left-wing movements. Here’s an excerpt:
By 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, 425 preventative arrests had already been made. News circulated that Julien Coupat, acquitted last year in the Tarnac railway sabotage case, was arrested for having a yellow vest in his car—an ironic turn of events, given that drivers are legally required to keep one at hand. His arrest should be understood as a political move by the French state to put the violence of the movement down to extreme-left and extreme-right elements, who they say are manipulating the gilets jaunes. This mirrors the rather unconvincing attempts by the Minister of the Interior and the media to split the casseurs off from the “real gilets jaunes,” stripping the movement of its insurrectionary character by ascribing the violence to a few minority elements rather than a great, whirling mass that nobody has quite managed to identify yet. This attempt continues to fail. On a live TV program on Saturday, three female gilets jaunes were interviewed about the property damage and looting. Each woman replied, deadpan, “ Franchement, je comprends ” (frankly, I understand), one after the other.
Image via Commune.