…It’s as kinetic a protest as building barricades in the street and burning cars or dumpsters, but it’s a more focused form of kinesis.
Benjamin Griveaux is the spokesman for President Emmanuel Macron’s “En Marche!” movement, which effectively makes him a spokesman for the French government. At a press conference last week, Mr. Griveaux chided the Yellow Vest movement for mounting what he called an “insurrection” against the French government. The Yellow Vests responded yesterday by hijacking a piece of construction equipment and ramming open the huge doors leading into the courtyard of Mr. Griveaux’s ministry building.
I’ve grown sick of watching all those videos of burning barricades and looting and throwing things at the police. All riots are more or less the same, and quite boring. What happened yesterday, however, was of a different order.
The video of the incident has since gone viral. If I were a major functionary in the French government and had been paying attention to recent events, I’d have a bag packed and ready — as Al Stewart wrote in the song “Running Man”: “the false name inside the passport, the gold bars and the gun” — so as to be able to slip across the border into Switzerland at a moment’s notice. When the situation finally goes sideways, government apparatchiks may not get much in the way of advanced warning.
The video below is a composite of three separate clips. The first shows the press conference in which Benjamin Griveaux admonishes the Yellow Vests, the second shows yesterday’s ramming of the gate at the ministry, and the third has a brief interview with Mr. Griveaux after the storming of his building.
Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the editing and subtitling:
Video transcript (in two parts, timed from the original clips):
|00:00||We have offered concrete and swift answers|
|00:04||to first and legitimate questions asked by the movement|
|00:08||known as the Yellow Vests. In particular, about purchasing power. We have done so|
|00:12||only twelve days after announcements formulated by the President|
|00:16||of the Republic, which found their legislative solutions in the work|
|00:20||begun by the Parliament. Since those announcements,|
|00:24||the movement called Yellow Vests — at least for|
|00:29||those who are still mobilized — in fact|
|00:33||became agitators who desire an insurrection,|
|00:37||to basically overthrow the cabinet. From now on|
|00:41||they are engaged in political combat to contest|
|00:45||the legitimacy of the cabinet and of the President of the Republic, and incidentally,|
|00:48||those who called for a debate don’t want to|
|00:53||participate in a big national debate. So I invite|
|00:57||all of our compatriots to participate in this debate,|
|01:01||to participate in it actively and make their voices heard. This is important at this time.|
|00:00||Well, it’s never very pleasant to have at your workplace people who arrive and who|
|00:04||want to smash everything with a construction vehicle. First of all, I praise the serenity|
|00:08||of the personnel and the security people, and|
|00:12||I repeat that it wasn’t about me, it was [about] the Republic, the institutions;|
|00:16||it’s the democratic form of government. I want those who|
|00:20||wish for insurrection, for armed revolt, who call French people to take up arms|
|00:26||and march on the Elysée [presidential palace], to know that the Republic still stands,|
|00:29||and that we won’t give up anything, and the power always stays with the law.|
|00:33||Those who want to mobilize, who do it with sincerity, should declare a rally.|
|00:37||You have to declare it to the prefecture. You have the right to rally, which is guaranteed by|
|00:40||the constitution of our country. And in order for those outbursts and those dramas not to multiply,|
|00:45||on the streets of Paris, on the streets Bordeaux, on the streets of other towns in France,|
|00:49||well, they need to de-solidarize themselves very clearly, to condemn very clearly|
|00:54||the acts of violence like the one that my office was victim of today.|
|00:58||And I also think that there are numerous people who saw their vehicles,|
|01:02||their two-wheeled vehicles, their stores vandalized,|
|01:06||destroyed, burned; you know all those people|
|01:10||have also been subjected to things for which they aren’t responsible, and this is unacceptable.|
|01:14||We will not give up anything to violence. It’s not through violent behavior that you will|
|01:18||change the Republic, and tiny minorities of people who wish to overthrow the cabinet|
|01:23||won’t make law in our Republic. The power will stay with the law and the Republican Order.