MACRON ON BRINK: ‘King Emmanuel’ CONDEMNED as Yellow Vest protests spiral into violence

Monday, January 28, 2019
By Paul Martin

THOUSANDS of anti-government demonstrators marched through Paris and other French cities at the weekend in protests marred by sporadic clashes with police which suggested that President Emmanuel Macron has not yet succeeded in quelling the discontent.

Mon, Jan 28, 2019

The movement began as a revolt against rising fuel and living costs but turned radical on the fringes as it grew to encompass broader anger over the government’s economic policies. Some 69,000 people took to the streets nationwide on the 11th consecutive weekend of rallies against the Macron government, including some 4,000 in Paris, the interior ministry said, down from an estimated 84,000 protesters across the country last Saturday. Police said that 65 yellow vests had been arrested in Paris, and that 23 remained in their custody on Sunday evening.

As in previous weeks, protesters waved French flags and held placards branding “King Macron” as out of touch, while others called for a so-called RIC – citizens’ initiative referendum –, a popular vote that would allow ordinary citizens to propose new laws.

Marches were broadly peaceful, but incidents were reported in several towns, including in the capital, where Jerome Rodrigues, a prominent yellow vest activist, suffered a serious eye injury, adding to recent controversy over police violence.

Video images show the 40-year-old construction worker splayed on the ground near the Bastille monument, where protesters hurling projectiles clashed with police, who responded with tear gas, water cannons, dispersal grenades and so-called flash ball pellet guns.

But the exact circumstances of the incident remain unclear.

While a police source told the news channel BFM TV that Mr Rodrigues had been hit in the eye by grenade debris, his lawyer has rejected this claim, telling BFM that his client had been hit by a flash ball pellet gun and deliberately targeted by police.

Mr Rodrigues, for his part, decried on Sunday an “attempted murder orchestrated by a police officer mandated by Macron and his dog, [Christophe] Castaner”.

He filed a complaint against the president and his interior minister later in the day.

He also fears he will be “handicapped for life,” according to his lawyer.

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