Scared of tomorrow

I am scared of tomorrow. Tomorrow is the 4th Saturday in a row that the Gilets Jaunes or yellow vests will take to the streets.

The first Saturday the movement of protest was not yet important, it only led S. to buy me a pink vest so that I am more visible on my bike rather than the standard colour, yellow. 

Two weeks ago, we could feel the anger mounting. There was tear gas, there were sprayed words on shop windows, there were streetfights around the Champs Elysées. It was a bit scary, I wrote about it in one of my posts.

And then last Saturday, things went belly up. I managed to buy some flour in the morning but shortly after I got home, I started hearing explosions and the air was thick with the smell of powder and the lingering scent of tear gas. We thought, it is raining, they won’t last long. Over the day, things instead of getting better got worse. 

150 vehicles were burnt, cobblestones were removed from the streets and thrown at the police, the Arc de Triomphe was stormed and left in a bad state. Trees were burnt or cut. Shops didn’t open or had to close early. Businesses were looted. A bank was burnt. Many metro stations were closed etc.  S. was meant to work until 20:30 and let me know at 17:00 that he was coming home. 

 The newly opened Chanel Boutique  was boarded-up, that  did not keep the Gilets Jaunes from tearing down the wooden panels, and entering with brute force to take home souvenirs… 

On Saturday just before darkness, I had to take the kids somewhere else than home, so we went to my dad, who lives up the street. Crossing Avenue Wagram I was astounded by the presence of fire trucks. It wasn’t the presence of firefighters, seen that everything smelt of burning and I had seen some live videos of the destruction (when the banc went up in flames), what got me was that there were about 20 trucks, not small ones, they were massive. Some firemen were looking at what must have been a map of the area. 

 Don’t worry, these are the good guys, cleaning up the mess

The next day, we were greeted by quiet and fresh air. But also destruction. 

With time I came to think of the yellow vests as wasps, angry, ready to sting. 

Since Saturday, the government has promised many things. The prices for gas won’t go up for another 6 months (this was the reason it all started), they are open to negotiation to substantially raise the minimum wage… 

And the truth be told so many positive things have happened in the past few months as election promises are being turned into reality. at the moment (if you are employed you no longer have to pay for health insurance (securité social) or for the unemployment money. Meaning you have more money at the end of the month. And no one will be paying income taxes on their 2018 income (that was not even an election promise). 

All pictures are curtosy of Moritz Werner, my dad. You can find him on Instagram here.

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4 thoughts on “Scared of tomorrow

  1. Oh Solveig, what a scary situation. Since I’m not totally up to speed with the mindset that is taking place in Paris, I don’t know if it is good or bad, but it is frightening. I hope positive comes from this mess. I worked in downtown Seattle during the WTO protests, so I too experienced the gas, flames, destruction, and fighting. It was terrifying trying to get into work and home every day. I hope you and your family are safe and I pray that positive things come from this destruction. Do we have to destroy things in order for our politicians to listen to us?

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  2. It seems the original protest is now a moot point. These are people who are just angry or hate the government or whatever. Hopefully things will calm down. Hoping for the best.

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  3. You have conveyed the feeling of being scared in your city so well. I feel for you all and hope for the best. I really wasn’t aware of just how bad things were, so thanks for your post.

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  4. Oh Solveig, I have been following the stories in Le Monde with horror! It seems that there is no easy solution! How can anyone even parley with a group that has no organization? From the outside looking in, it seems that they have done more damage to their own people than even the ISIS terrorists in terms of making businesses shut down, hurting fellow countrymen and their families…I hope la France can find a peace very soon.

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