'Yellow vest' rioters back on the streets but where's Macron?
More than 5,000 protesters, most wearing the "yellow vests" that French law requires each driver carry in their car, roiled the streets of Paris once again, forcing the 8,000 police mobilized to deal with them to fire tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd.
If French President Macron hoped that his government's scrapping of the fuel tax would calm the situation, he was sadly mistaken. The media narrative that the violence was about a rise in the tax on diesel fuel and the violence was being perpetrated by far right nationalists and black clad anarchists has been shown to be utter crap.
Water cannons were used near Arc de Triomphe, which is safeguarded this weekend after protesters defaced it during the previous weekends.
Some protesters were seen throwing rocks and glass bottles at police officers, sparking a continued flow of tear gas to contain the crowd.
At least one of the business buildings was breached, with agitators breaking the wooden walls aimed at protecting the business and smashing windows.
Protesters threw back the tear gas at the police, only to escalate the clashes.
Many protesters slammed the French media for portraying the protests as led by violent agitators and for siding with Macron's government.
"We are not black bloc [black clad anarchists], we are ordinary people voicing our anger," said a protester who did not want to be identified.
No, the riots are not about a fuel tax, nor is it specifically about Macron's climate change agenda. This is class warfare of a kind that Europe has been seeing for more than 100 years. The middle and lower classes are being squeezed by high taxes and a rising cost of living while they perceive the rich to be unaffected by the economics of social democracy. Egalitarianism in France has always been much stronger than anywhere else in Europe or the US, and inequality in incomes and standards of living is resented by ordinary people.
For Macron's part, he has pulled a disappearing act:
While he has regularly been seen on world stages, including the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, he has been conspicuous by his absence this week, choosing to keep away from the limelight as his government attempts to deal with the issues being protested by the “yellow jacket” protesters who have protested and even rioted in cities over France in recent weeks.
He may be hiding because he knows he has been an utter failure:
Macron had initially stood firm on the hikes, saying they were necessary to combat climate change and France’s reliance on oil. But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the government was scrapping the tax hike altogether. A government spokesman also suggested on French radio that a wealth tax that Macron ended last year could be re-introduced.
This is pure groveling to the mob by Macron, and it obviously isn't working:
“Is Macron still in Argentina? He must surely have an opinion,” left-wing 2017 presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted, a reference to Macron’s recent visit to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
According to Reuters, Macron intends to address the nation early next week. The Associated Press reported Friday that Macron has spent the week holding closed-door meetings in the Elysee Palace, with his office announcing that he would not speak before Saturday’s protests.
Maybe the French people should put their president's picture on milk cartons - not that it would do any good.