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.
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.