French 'Yellow Vest' protests spread from Paris to Belgium
Violent French protests against high taxes and the government of President Emannuel Macron entered their second week as similar demonstrations erupted in Brussels.
The protesters in both countries are wearing yellow vests, which drivers are required to carry in their cars at all times. In France, they are unhappy over a recent fuel tax increase and high taxes in general.
Near the Ritz hotel, not far from high-end boutiques and restaurants, and in the avenues off the Arc de Triomphe, where several foreign embassies are located, gangs of violent protesters ran riot, setting a police van on fire and overturning cars. At least two buildings were aflame.
Close to the Place Vendome, Christmas trees decorating the streets were upended, piled in the middle of an avenue and set alight, prompting chanting from scores of protesters.
Youths smashed the windows of the flagship Apple Store on the Champs Elysees which opened just a few weeks ago. A boutique on the Rue Rivoli was broken into and looted. Banks were vandalized and scrawled with anti-government graffiti.
Police said several hundred far-right and far-left extremists had infiltrated a demonstration by some 5,000 calmer “yellow vest” protesters who had gathered in the capital to denounce President Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax increases.
“We are in a state of insurrection, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jeanne d’Hauteserre, the mayor of the city’s 8th arrondissement, near the Arc de Triomphe, told BFM TV.
It is the third week of national unrest by the movement — named after the high-visibility jackets that all motorists in France must carry in their vehicles — and the second consecutive weekend of violent disturbance in Paris.
In Belgium, demonstrators also wearing yellow vests, became violent as well:
Two police vehicles were burned during violent clashes Friday, November 30, at the end of a demonstration of about 300 "yellow vests" in Brussels, the first gathering of this type organized in the Belgian capital. The French journalist Rémy Buisine was arrested in full direct, before being released.
Police cars were burned in the street early in the afternoon, shortly after the police used water cannons to disperse protesters throwing projectiles.According to a spokeswoman for the Brussels police, the protesters notably threw "billiard balls and cobblestones" . Some 60 people were arrested because they carried banned items such as cutters, smoke or tear gas bombs.
VIDEO: Protesters in Belgium burned police vans after officers fired water cannon to disperse violent members of the "yellow vest" movement which spilled over from France pic.twitter.com/ksh2M0rJVp— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 30, 2018
What is really happening in the streets of Brussels and Paris?
President Macron is seriously considering a state of emergency, given that the protests have spread nationwide.
Disturbances also rocked several cities and towns and across France - from Charleville Mezieres in the northeast to Nantes in the west and Marseille in the south.
"We have to think about the measures that can be taken so that these incidents don't happen again," government spokeswoman Benjamin Griveaux told Europe 1 radio.
The popular rebellion erupted out of nowhere on Nov. 17 and has spread quickly via social media, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to shopping malls, factories and some fuel depots.
The protests began as a backlash against Macron's fuel tax hikes, but have mined a vein of deep dissatisfaction felt towards the 40-year-old's liberal economic reforms, which many voters feel favour the wealthy and big business.
The Reuters report above mentions that both far right and far left demonstrators are in the streets. This is not an ideological protest; it is class warfare. Macron's economic policies - including his ruinous green policies - favor the establishment at the expense of ordinary people. The elites in France and elsewhere in Europe have been taking an ever greater share of people's paychecks to pay for unpopular programs, including refugee resettlement and taxes to save the world from global warming.
They treat people like sheep and are surprised when the flocks become unruly? Macron and other elites don't have a clue how to deal with this situation except suppress the protests. Eventually, he is going to have to come to terms with what's really happening in France. By then, it will probably be too late for him.