Paris in the Spring — The Smell of Teargas on the Champs-Élysées!

The following documentary provides a close-up look at one of the recent Saturday demonstrations/riots by the Yellow Vests in Paris. The intensity of the violence is notable — not just police brutality (of which there seems to be plenty), but the dedicated, coordinated mass assaults against the police by the violent portion of the Yellow Vests. They appear to be hard-core revolutionaries eager to fight the police.

Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:04   We are here, we continue.
00:08   It’s a political act, it’s resistance, that’s all.
00:12   [chant] Everybody hates the police!
00:16   Everybody hates the police!
00:21   Everybody hates the police!
00:25   Yellow Vests: Explosion. Act 18, March 16th 2019, Paris
00:29   It’s the story of a pressure cooker that in the end blew up.
00:33   Eighteen weeks of contempt, of witch-hunting, of mutilations, of flogging by batons
00:37   of [unintelligible], of indiscriminate condemnations.
00:41   Can you be REALLY surprised that this rotten strategy results in a eruption
00:45   of violence and the infernal escalation that accompanies it?
00:50   It all started at 10am at the Saint Lazare train station. —It’s a great debate that’s ending,
00:54   and, well, we are going to continue this great debate, because we aren’t OK with what’s going on.
00:58   We know that it’s a big lie, in fact. —Well, and if it’s not working, what are you going to do?
01:02   We’ll be here next Saturday. We won’t let go. The action continues.
01:06   We are here. We carry on. [chant] Eh, Macron, with your buttface.
01:14   The Champs [Elysées] is filling up. First events explode on the corner of the
01:19   rue Arsène Houssaye, as usual.
01:27   [Banner read by the narrator] “Freedom is grasped the same way life is given: with violence
01:31   and with noise.” The quote comes from Sean Hart, a big personality
01:35   in Street Art.
01:43   The first paving stones are flying in the direction
01:47   of the mobile gendarmes, who are defending the Arc de Triomphe.
01:50   A rain of projectiles is falling on men and vehicles. Among those throwing
01:56   are Black Block [anarchists], of course, but Yellow Vests are much more numerous.
02:00   The gendarmes, accompanied by some elements of the BAC [Anti-Criminality Brigade]
02:04   attempt a sortie. They’re pushed back.
02:25   The first grenades —
02:29   GLIF4 — are being thrown.
02:33   On the avenue the first of the barricades
02:37   is set on fire. The American flag is burned.
02:54   Around noon the storefront
02:58   of the Fouquets, the brasserie where Nicolas Sarkozy celebrated his election in 2007,
03:03   is ransacked. A CSI [Company of Securitization and Intervention = urban police]
03:07   takes a position next to the business.
03:15   The Longchamp store is vandalized.
03:19   Some Yellow Vests don’t condemn it. —Yes, of course I support it, sir.
03:23   Our pensions are in danger, the wage earners are in danger, the unemployed
03:28   aren’t being compensated as foreseen. We remove everything. All the…
03:32   The old folks got paid vacations in 1936 and what do we have? We no longer have anything today.
03:36   But not all the Yellow Vests approve of violence. When we see
03:40   what’s going on there, they break everything. And we are there,
03:44   and we don’t even know what to do. —I don’t accept violence, wherever it comes from.
03:48   Whatever type [of violence] it might be. Unfortunately, I think that
03:53   was all that was listened to, up to now. I’m afraid,
03:57   unfortunately, that this has become a bidding war and a pretext
04:01   for going even further with the violence and the repression.
04:05   It’s a political act. It’s not like they try to pretend: the vandals are breaking everything,
04:09   just for the sake of ransacking. They are vandalizing very precise sites,
04:12   and I think that yes, it’s necessary. And this is what scares them.
04:15   The proof of it is that here, for those four months when Macron was talking,
04:18   that’s when everything was vandalized, when the Arc de Triomphe was tagged, and so on.
04:22   So it’s not violence, since when you don’t take up arms, and you don’t hit, it’s called resistance.
04:26   That’s all. The arrests are becoming rougher. In the evening of the rally
04:30   237 arrests have been counted, among which 200
04:34   are temporarily incarcerated.
04:43   Journalists were ill-treated, like those two photographers [who were]
04:47   roughly thrown out.
04:51   A kiosk was then set on fire.
04:55   A newspaper kiosk, this is unacceptable. Those are small businesses!
04:59   The [unintelligible] is the problem. The little guy always suffers the most. The big ones, yes,
05:03   it’s a shame they were vandalized. But that doesn’t change the fact that the big one will be fine.
05:06   It’s a shame that there are a*****es who are vandalizing everything. That’s all.
05:12   We aren’t here to vandalize. We are here just with our demands. Clearly
05:16   lacking radio connection, this CSI officer has to contact his superiors on the phone instead.
05:24   On the Place de l’Étoile the interval of calm is over.
05:45   Soon the assailants as well the besieged revive the technique of the Roman Legions
05:48   to protect themselves from projectiles.
06:23   [unintelligible] will make 42 wounded among the protesters and 17 among law enforcement.
06:27   The clashes move to Marceau Avenue.
06:35   The water cannon is blocking the progression of the protesters.
06:52   Law enforcement are intervening to stop the beginning
06:56   of pillaging. But they don’t manage to take the street back.
07:00   The barriers protecting the Bulgari boutique
07:04   have been torn off. A CSI is intervening.
07:13   An incendiary device is thrown in his direction.
07:21   Two police officers entered into the crowd. They are being attacked.
07:29   Their colleagues come to their rescue.
07:33   Fouquet’s is attacked again
07:38   The CSI and the BAC that are protecting it
07:42   are forced to back off, before counterattacking.
07:46   The marquee above the terrasse is on fire.
07:50   Probably because of a pyrotechnic device.
07:54   The individual with a yellow vest attached to his belt is a police officer. It’s not the first time
07:58   that we note this subterfuge of the police services in order to infiltrate the protesters
08:02   To what goal? In the heart of the riots people are still trying to have a dialogue.
08:07   We are brothers. I only say “thou” to a brother. —Exactly —We are the citizens.
08:11   I’m not f***ing with you, because I respect you, but you have to respect me as well.
08:15   What I’m noting sir, is that [unintelligible] arrived —We haven’t tried to prevent
08:19   the truck from coming through —I’m not saying the opposite! The protesters stole umbrellas.
08:23   They’re using them to advance towards the police cordon.
08:28   Now it’s the Longchamp store that is set on fire. The medics, those volunteer rescuers,
08:32   and the Yellow Vests run into the neighboring corridor, to make sure that nobody
08:36   is left behind in the building.
08:40   There’s nobody? —No, there’s nobody! —Bastard! —Back off! —This isn’t going to fly,
08:45   I’m telling you! —We have to remove [unintelligible] from across the street. —Miguel!
08:48   I don’t know [unintelligible] —I know, but I can’t see, there are too many people,
08:53   I can’t shoot! The arrests are multiplying.
08:57   The PSG store is being ransacked. The tear gas makes the protesters gasp for air.
09:05   Panicking, some of them take refuge in the hall
09:09   of an apartment building. A CSI follows quickly and hits everybody with batons.
09:18   Gang of killers! Gang of killers! —You didn’t stop hitting. We were
09:22   all on the floor being beaten! —Killers!
09:26   They were hitting me on the head. I was covering my head. —Criminals! Criminals!
09:30   Remain pacifists, people! —One female rescuer is beaten, even though
09:34   her white helmet and her red backpack signal that she is one of the street medics.
09:55   They are sick!
09:59   On the Place de l’Étoile the water canons are dispersing what’s left of the rally
10:03   after eight hours of fighting.
10:08   Around eight pm Christophe Castaner [Interior Minister]
10:12   strongly announced with beacons, came to salute the officers who
10:16   were defending the area of the Arc de Triomphe, before going to meet the President
10:20   of the Republic, who came back — for the emergency — from his ski weekend.
10:24   Whatever you might think about the events that filled this day,
10:29   this day is proof of the defeat of policies that are
10:33   incapable of doing the job for society and its citizens.

3 thoughts on “Paris in the Spring — The Smell of Teargas on the Champs-Élysées!

  1. Why on earth would they burn the American flag? America has done nothing to create that environment. In fact, truth be known, we conservatives would support the yellow vest protestors against the dictator Macron.

    • I agree, Theresa. If anything, our export of oil has driven the price of petrol down somewhat. But never mind: burning an American flag is talking truth to power. Of course. That’s why OUR leftists do it, too. Cheap gestures mean nothing, change nothing.

      • There are signs that the Left in France is trying to appropriate the Yellow Vest movement. There are politicians from the Left who tried to do it (Melenchon, for example). Then there is the Black Block, which isn’t -like in other countries- fighting the protesters, but is attacking the police instead. (either out of conviction, or as provocateurs, so violence would be blamed on the YV). Also the graffitis that I saw in one video in Paris, are mostly singed “Antifa” (A in a circle). I saw banners as well, that were clearly supporting feminist or ecologist causes. French might not notice any of it, because they are very much to the Left since the French Revolution, so they won’t be alarmed, until it’s too late, and Yellow Vest movement has been stolen from them. I hope I’m wrong!

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