Do the mass protests taking place in France in the last few weeks, which have been triggered by the “gilets jaunes” movement, represent (at least on their non-violent side) another Occupy? The answer, in the opinion of our French-speaking European correspondent, Karel Rehor, is both yes (in the movement’s opposition to neo-liberal policies and its leaderless aspects) and no (in that it is a largely suburban and rural phenomenon). Or, as Karel writes:
The gilets jaunes are, I believe, a different creature from the Nuit debout or Occupy movements. Nuit debout and Occupy started with tech savvy students and young professionals, and was centered in urban areas. The gilets jaunes started with middle aged, middle class workers from rural areas and the suburbs. It has to do with the structural changes in French society imposed by globalization and neo-liberalism over the last 30 years. In most small towns and villages the traditional baker, butcher and small shop keeper no longer exist. They have been destroyed by shopping centers, much like in the rural US. In order to hold a job, go to school, purchase the basic necessities of life, French paysans cannot get by without a car, because the jobs, schools and necessities are in the shopping centers and urban agglomerations 20 to 30 km from where most rural French live.
In addition to this the EU has imposed on the French austerity programs, championed by the French president Emmanuel Macron and his ruling party, La Republique en Marche (LREM), which have led to unprofitable rural hospitals and clinics being closed, to the suppression of support for public transport and to increased fees and charges for everything from water and electricity to permits and the like. Macron has also proposed privatizing the state rail company SNCF; even the hydroelectric dams are scheduled to be privatized. To make the SNCF sale more attractive, they’ve already started suppressing unprofitable local lines. This is coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy, along with a refusal to prosecute wealthy tax dodgers with income hidden in tax paradises like Luxembourg or the Caribbean Islands. One kind of tax that can’t be dodged is a gas tax, which is a regressive tax that falls disproportionately on the rural and suburban poor, like the French paysans, because they simply cannot live without their auto.
This is what Macron and the LREM-dominated assembly steeply raised, which was to come into effect on Jan. 1, to a level that the rural poor cannot pay. So they started organizing three weeks ago, blocking traffic circles and major transport arteries. Gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, are worn because of a recently proposed law that would have required all owners of a motor vehicle, even a scooter, to carry a yellow vest with them at all times, and to wear it when outside of their vehicle on the motorway. Macron personally has refused to recognize their movement, to even mention them by name in the media. He claims the tax is an Ecological tax, but everyone knows that only 20% of the revenues are earmarked for ecological transformation and that the remaining 80% is to be used to plug the gaps in his budget created by tax cuts on the wealthy. He has even gone so far as to try and shame those French citizens who protest as not doing their part to save the planet, which has not gone over well, not only with the gilets jaunes, but also with a large segment of the French population.
The gilets jaunes so far have no structure and no recognized leadership. They organize mainly on social media. Most of the protests have involved blocking tax offices, blocking roads, commandeering toll booths on privatized motorways and allowing motorists and truck drivers to pass without paying. What has the French political leadership spooked is that when they meet for their flash-mob actions, there are participants from the far left and the far right, and they are discovering that they have more in common than they have differences. They claim on social media to be an apolitical group. Following protests this weekend, the chief of police in Paris claimed that the profile of those arrested were 1/3 far right, 1/3 far left and 1/3 without any political affiliation.
Tensions first ratcheted up on November 24, when a large protest was planned for Paris. The Interior Minister permitted protestors to gather on the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel tower, however the sentiment on social media was that gilets jaunes wanted to protest on the Champs Elysees. I’ve gathered from youtubers and independent media that access to the Champs Elysees was blocked by thousands of police; however, many within the police are sympathetic to the gilets jaunes because they are victims of the very same economic policies. They let many groups of gilets jaunes filter through and access the Champs Elysees while other groups wandered about the capital. This led to a huge gap in reported numbers, as it appears that some ended up at the Champs de Mars, and some on Place de la Bastille and others at Place de la Republique, while others simply wandered about. The general intent was to force their way to the Elysee Palace, but they were blocked by the police from going that far. Some cars were burned and there were some minor street battles and in the evening most had to find their way home. Seeing as they are not Paris residents, this meant a long drive to wherever in the countryside they came from. Following these protests, Prime Minister Edourard Phillippe agreed that their representatives should meet with the Interior Minister, and some of the more active social media participants were informally selected to meet with him. But the meeting turned into a farce when the government insisted that the meeting could not be filmed or recorded. Only half of those selected showed, with most leaving once they discovered the conditions imposed, and only one staying the full scheduled hour.
A second round of protests (Act III) was planned for Paris Dec 1. During the week, polls showed that as many as 84% of French Citizens support the gilets jaunes. They started by demanding a repeal of the gas tax, but now their demands include a new referendum law, more democracy, a new constitutional convention, and Macron’s resignation. During the week they were joined by students and minority leaders from the banlieux (the suburban estates, which have in many areas turned into ghettos). It appears that it is the latter who are mostly responsible for the destruction and riots in Paris, though police stations and a mayor’s office were set ablaze in some smaller rural towns.
Both Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National – formally the Front National Party) and Jean Luc Melanchon (France Insoumise – the most credible movement of the far left) have called for their followers to support the gilets jaunes. Many of these already are active in the gilets jaunes movement. While politicians from every party, except Macron’s, have tried to jump on the band wagon, the gilets jaunes refuse to be taken over by a party, and no political leader dares to try and steer them or give them direction.
Macron’s speech from Buenos Ares and his continued patronizing and arrogant attitude has only further infuriated many. He said over the summer, while surrounded by a hundred of his supporters during the Ben Allah affair, that whoever dared to want him, should come and find him. The gilets jaunes came to find him, but he hid behind thousands of police, or was away in Buenos Ares. This has only further eroded his political standing.
It remains difficult to say how this is likely to play out. Phillippe, Macron’s prime minister, announced on Tuesday a six month delay in the implementation of the price increases, which the protestors denounced as mere “crumbs.” Macron then cancelled the price increases altogether, but not before the protestors vowed further and larger protests beginning this Saturday in Paris, to press the movement’s demands of Macron’s resignation, as well as a redistribution of wealth and rises in salaries, pensions, social security payments and in the minimum wage.
Photographs of the December 1 demonstration in the provincial city of Avignon by Sébastien Huette, Creative Commons License, from flikr.com.
[Update – Monday, December 10, 2018]
During the week leading up to this weekend’s protest Philippe and Macron made concessions on the fuel taxes (Macron did not completely remove the fuel tax increase, he promised that no fuel tax increase would be introduced in 2019), however they have not gone so far as reintroducing the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF, which Macron replaced this year with a lower and more easily dodged tax on real estate holdings, ISI), or the replacing of the subvention for new hires (CICE) with a cut in employers’ contributions to social programs such as health insurance and state pensions. The later is their neo-liberal supply-side attempt to lower unemployment. The plan is to reduce the employer contribution to health insurance and pension premiums thus creating a deficit for the state health insurance and pension plans or by eventually requiring employees to carry a greater burden deducted from their wages. Supporters of these cuts argue they should make it cheaper for an employer to hire new employees. Meanwhile large corporations will still receive tens of billions out of the state budget for CICE payments in 2019 based on their activities in 2018. Nor have Macron and Philippe addressed the demand to increase the minimum wage, which stands now roughly at €1 185 net per month. No one in the government has addressed political demands such as scrapping first-past-the-post and changing the national assembly to a system of proportional representation; such as a more liberal law on popular referendums; or the ability for new proposed laws to be presented to the assembly by popular petition; or other measures to further democratize the system. Calls for a new constitutional convention or for political evolution towards a sixth republic have especially been dropped from mainstream media reports and have gone unmentioned by government officials.
The “cancellation” of the fuel tax increase was the meagre carrot. The stick was the promise that throughout France 89 000 police would be deployed along with dozens of military grade armoured vehicles. The football league announced it was postponing most of this weekend’s scheduled matches for lack of police protection. Towards the end of the week, the expectation was that Act IV (Dec. 8) participation would be less than that of Act III (Dec. 1). On social media it appeared that the movement was splintering. A subgroup of Gilets Jaunes dubbed themselves the Gilets Jaunes Libres. They oppose the sentiment, that the movement should have no structure and no identifiable leadership, and have proposed selecting recognized leaders with whom the government can negotiate its way out of the crisis. The wider movement has argued that just as with the unions, once “representatives” are elected, they will be pressured and coerced into betraying the “represented” to restore or maintain the status quo. Leaders of the most prominent unions, CFDT, CGT, FO, and others have declared themselves opposed to the current disorder and violence and have put themselves forward as the arbiters of the crisis. On social media many union members have expressed a sense of betrayal by their leadership.
Meanwhile, among the overworked forces for public order, one police union (Vigi – representing less than 1% of the national police), notified the government that its members were planning to strike on Saturday December 8. Other police unions did not support this call. They were reminded that such a strike would be illegal. During the week the Gilets Jaunes in rural France continued to block sporadically the transportation infrastructure and students at a number of institutions went on strike partly in solidarity with the Gilets Jaunes movement and partly against reforms in education policy, which would make admission to universities more competitive, or more difficult for students from disadvantaged families. These student actions in some locations devolved into acts of vandalism and rioting. Video and images of more than a hundred students arrested en-masse by the police at Maintes-la-Jolie (57 km from Paris) were circulated on social media Thursday evening quickly making their way into the nightly news and shocking and infuriating the general public, civil servants and many politicians.
(Oddly I’m having trouble googling the images that were everywhere two days ago.)
With COP24 currently under way in Katowice Poland protests in support of the planet and of fighting climate change had long been planned for Saturday Dec 8 in all major French cities. In the face of the Gilets Jaunes crisis the government and mainstream media were pressuring organizers to cancel these events. Some NGOs dropped out, yet most decided to carry on, defending their decision with the slogan, “Ecology and Social Justice are the same fight.”
Friday evening it appeared that the images from Maintes-la-Jolie, coupled with the less than half measures of the Philippe government, had increased interest in the Act IV protests. Many pledged to avoid the Champs Elysées. There were appeals to focus actions instead on other French regions or to block instead the Paris ring road. Also Friday evening a detailed plan of the police strategy of using flying squads to extinguish spots of unrest and then move on was leaked to social media, making it possible for Gilets Jaunes or rather fringe troublemakers to avoid arrest while causing the greatest amount of damage. Overall the social media sentiment was to avoid the damage and violence perpetrated during the Act III protests and to work with the police and not against them.
Police tactics in Paris changed for Act IV. Instead of blocking Gilets Jaunes access to les Champs Elysées, early on Saturday the activists were allowed to occupy the wide boulevard, after having bags checked and certain items, such as gas masks, confiscated. A large contingent at port Maillot were undecided as to whether to block the ring road or to continue to les Champs Elysées. They eventually opted for the latter. However, early in the afternoon the police turned the boulevard into a large kettle with no filtration points. Allowing no one else to enter and no one to leave they began firing tear gas on those inside. Armoured vehicles were used to quickly put out fires and to smash barricades erected often with materials brought in by local businesses to board up their doors and windows in anticipation of the protests.
Elsewhere in Paris, Place de la République, and in other major cities the pro-environment marchers and Gilets-Jaunes joined forces, marching shoulder to shoulder and occupying public spaces for most of the day. Trump’s tweet about events in France being a rebuke of climate change policy was nothing but ridiculous. Other Gilets-Jaunes on this prime Christmas shopping weekend blocked access to major retail centres, some of which appeared to be deserted. In many towns groups of protesters got to their knees and put their hands behind their heads imitating the posture in which the students at Maintes-la-Jolie were detained during the week. Universally they chanted variations on the theme of Macron Resign! Or Macron Treason! On the internet the sentiment was often expressed that the real vandal (casseur) is Macron—for vandalizing the social contract. Toward the evening cars were torched in many cities and shops were looted and vandalized. In Paris Starbucks franchises seemed to be particularly targeted to be ransacked and tagged: “Pay your taxes!” Many profitable multinationals – Starbucks, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft (Les GAFAM in French) – have managed to avoid paying their full share or even any taxes in the EU nations in which they operate.
The mainstream media seemed to be focussed on the Champs Elysées, where the kettled protesters stoically kept their cool in comparison with Act III. The impression created by the media is that the movement peaked with Act III. However it appears that events elsewhere in France have gone under-reported. Gilets Jaunes have also started organizing in Belgium. In Brussels several hundred tried to storm the European Parliament building. This underscores the often expressed opinion that the core conflict is between an imperial, neo-liberal, bureaucratic and undemocratic European Union oligarchy and the local democratic sovereignty of common citizens to determine policies for themselves.
The Gilets Jaunes are very much aware of the role of the media in shaping opinion, and that the mainstream media have been essentially captured by the globalists and the neo-liberal elite. During the week opposition politicians, when being interviewed, were frequently pressured by mainstream journalists to try and make statements condoning the violence or implying their assent to extra-constitutional measures to bring down Macron and the Philippe government. In other words, the journalists tried to discredit them, along with the movement that they are defending. During live feed coverage of Acts III and IV in the background many protesters gave reporters the one fingered salute. BFM TV (something like a cross between Bloomberg and CNN) had to switch off live coverage when the crowd began chanting, “BFM enculés” (BFM Arseholes! Or BFM take it up the …). RT France seems to be less coolly received.
The interior ministry reported more than a 1300 arrests. One well known green activist was pulled over on the outskirts of Paris and arrested simply for having a reflective vest in his car. More than 900 were further held for prosecution. The Interior Ministry states a figure for Act IV of 125 000 protesters nationwide, down a few thousand from the previous week. However a police union website estimates the numbers at 520 000. (https://france-police.org/2018/12/08/estimation-de-la-participation-a-15h30-ce-samedi-8-decembre-2018-520-000-gilets-jaunes-partout-en-france-metropolitaine/).
Macron has refused to make any public pronouncements this weekend. Opposition politicians are planning a vote of no-confidence for Monday. With Macron’s party in the majority in the assembly the motion is unlikely to succeed. While the figure of € 840 000 of state money, or 58 years of minimum wage income, spent by the Macrons on renovating residences, building a swimming pool and buying china, circulates through social media, he seems most likely waiting for the confidence motion to fail before speaking again to the public.
Despite the upcoming holiday season most Gilets Jaunes have declared that Act V will follow.
[Update – Tuesday, December 11, the day after Macron’s speech]
Macron spoke to the nation Monday evening. So my prediction was wrong. The Socialists decided to postpone introducing the vote of confidence, until after hearing what Macron had to say. They went ahead with the vote late today.
As for Macron’s speech, after some apologetic words about having misjudged the situation, still without mentioning the Gilets Jaunes by name, he offered to raise the minimum wage by 100 euros a month, to allow for tax free overtime pay and to reduce what he termed social charges, meaning contributions to health, unemployment insurance and pensions. However he did not mention restoring the solidarity tax on wealth, or the CICE replacement scam. Criticisms came fast. As Etienne Chouard, campaigner against the European Union Constitution in 2005, pointed out, health, unemployment and pensions are not “charges”, they are deferred forms of income to which workers will be entitled under certain circumstances. So cutting these means in effect undercutting the systems of deferred income, or the future income of middle class workers. Many deem the minimum wage increase too small, seeing that by the year 2021, the minimum wage would rise to this level with cost of living adjustments. Numbers for an increase floated by the Gilets Jaunes themselves ran from 200 to 800 Euros net per month.
In general, Macron’s proposals only fiddle with existing numbers for the working class. He offered no plans to restore some of the tax burden, which he removed over the past year, to the wealthier and corporate classes. Early on Monday he met with MEDEF, the largest French employer federation, whose leadership generally represents the business class. His speech very much sounded like it was written to placate them and only them, as though it may have been mainly written by them. Political demands of the Gilets Jaunes were not addressed. He did however call on business owners and high level corporate management to help to resolve the crisis. Some have responded today with very public pronouncements of large one off year end bonuses.
Concerning the multinational corporate elite, it has come to light, that Macron’s government has begged Facebook to pay 1.5 million Euros in taxes, a minuscule sum, considering Facebook has 45 million registered users in France. This would be 3 centimes per user. Since 2010, when Sarkozy was president, the French tax authorities have dismissed over 3 000 agents responsible for investigating tax dodgers. Meanwhile the same tax authorities are paying Facebook 20 million Euros a year for information that might reveal potential tax avoidance by its users.
Many Gilets Jaunes and their supporters are concerned that the armoured vehicles brought in for the Act IV protests did not carry the French flag, but instead were marked with the European Union one. Rumours have been circulating on the web, that Macron may call upon European Union partners to provide additional police, to aid their overworked French colleagues. If this were to transpire, it would echo the historical moment directly preceding the storming of the Bastille, when Louis XVI brought in foreign mercenaries to threaten the Parisian populace, who responded by forming the National Guard with Lafayette as its leader. To date, two protesters and one police officer have had their hands blown off by police grenades. In Marseilles an eighty year old retiree, Zineb Redouane, died in hospital after a police grenade exploded in the window of her apartment, while she was attempting to close the shutters to keep out the tear gas fumes. She lived on the fourth floor of her building. The police have denied responsibility and Macron failed to mention her or any other fatalities connected with the current crisis. Another protester, struck in the head by a police projectile during the Act III protests, remains in hospital in a coma. Thousands of students remained on strike early this week.
While some social media personalities, who helped initiate the Gilets Jaunes movement, have declared they are satisfied with the measures Macron announced Monday evening, one even reminding fellow protesters that they cannot stay camped at the roundabouts forever, a large portion have characterized his speech as a load of rubbish. The predominant sentiment is that Act V protests will go forward. It has been stated that they got Macron and the government to budge this much, they now want to try and get him to move much further. There is also discussion of the Gilets Jaunes movement drafting its own list of candidates for the European elections next spring. Could they evolve into something like the 5 Star Movement of Italy?
[Update – Thursday, December 14, 2018]
Act V begins tomorrow. It seems like a lot of the arrests last week were preventative and an attempt to create an atmosphere of intimidation. People were arrested simply for having pétanque balls in their cars.
Here’s a clip of a woman on the Bordeaux to Paris express last Saturday. She says that the police in Bordeaux controlled everyone on the platform before boarding. Anyone with a yellow vest in their possession was denied embarkation, even if they had valid tickets. At the end of the clip she shows the empty wagon, which on Saturday would normally be full.
Because of the terrorist attack on the Strassbourg Christmas Market, the government and media were calling for the Gilets Jaunes protests to be cancelled. Many media pundits have remarked that this movement is an aid to terrorists. Others have pointed out that a lot of online activity in support of the Gilets Jaunes is coming from Russia. Nevertheless Act V is going forward and many unions and leftish organizations are calling for their members to participate.
I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the RIC [referendum d’initiative citoyen, i.e. to put in place a citizen initiative referendum such as they have on a national level in Switzerland or, on a state level, in Arizona – Ed.]. This seems to be one political demand that a majority of the Gilets Jaunes are keen to see realized. Many were even further enraged on Tuesday, when it was reported, that an hour before Macron’s address to the nation, the Senate voted to relax exit tax rules. The exit tax is a tax ratified by Sarkozy and levied on capital holdings of wealthy expatriates, when they seek to move their assets to a foreign jurisdiction. Macron’s party has proposed a change to the law to make it easier for the wealthy to move their holdings to overseas tax havens. This is what the Senate approved only an hour before his televised I-have-understood-you address on Monday.
[Update – Monday, December 17, 2018]
One of my favorite French video logs, “j’suis pas content”, labeled the entry on this weekend’s events as Strasbourg vs. Act V. I think this succinctly encapsulates the past week. To recapitulate, Macron’s concessions, offered in his speech on Monday, failed to convince the majority of Gilets Jaunes or even the majority of French citizens. They are still not satisfied and were not persuaded to wind down their protests. The core of the movement expressed an even deeper sense of disappointment and even betrayal at Macron’s speech, which has been characterized as blowing smoke or outright rubbish. Furthermore, following the terrorist attack on the Strasbourg Christmas market, the government and the media brought pressure on the Gilets Jaunes to try and dissuade them from further protests. Some politicians and media pundits claimed that the protests were providing cover for and drawing police resources away from the terrorist threat.
There are clear signs that the movement is splintering and losing some momentum. Whether this is temporary, to get a second wind in the new year or not, remains to be seen. Ten days ago a subgroup, calling themselves the Gilets Jaunes libres, called for the creation of a structured leadership and a detailed platform to facilitate negotiations with the government. They did not find a large amount of social media support. Following Macron’s speech, a couple of the original and most active members announced that they were satisfied with the one year delay in the carbon tax increases and with a supposed 100 Euro increase in the minimum wage, which was more simply shifting forward a few months increases already legislated. Polls show that public support for the movement has slipped to as low as 54% or even 48% depending upon how the question of support was phrased. Some Gilets Jaunes called for further protests in Paris, while others insisted on focusing on more regional actions. Some local groups have independently announced a pause in blockades and similar activity until the new year.
During the Act IV protests police targeted mass transit vectors to deny Gilets Jaunes activists access to the capitol by train. During Act V they set up roadblocks at the main transport infrastructure points (les portes) leading into Paris and prevented many from entering the city. Many more activists chose instead to join regional protests. The weather turned much colder and wetter, with snow mixed with rain and temperatures around minus 3 degrees Celsius (27 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day in the north and around Paris. All of these factors combined to create a markedly lower turnout in Paris than over the previous two weekends. Never-the-less, protests in provincial cities were reported to be at about the same level. The interior ministry reported a figure of 33 500 participants throughout France, with over 69 000 police called out to face them. As one police union website has pointed out either the executive branch of government is lying or France has become North Korea. 95 arrests were made, but only 63 of these lead to detention. Most of these seem to have been preventative arrests or attempts at generally intimidating protesters. Most are being charged with a new offense titled something like gathering with the intent to create public mayhem.
Early on Saturday two of the most prominent leaders of the movement, Priscillia Ludosky and Maxime Nicolle, held a press conference at the Jeu de Paume, the building were in 1789 representatives of the estates general pledged to provide France with a formal written constitution and to stick together in the face of threats from Louis XVI to disband their assembly by force. After decrying 40 years of politics as usual, despite which party or president has been in power; politics: that ignore the interest of the majority of common French citizens; that sees an increase in profits and productivity, but no real increase in working class income; that sees increases in taxes on the lower and middle classes, but cuts in public support and services; that imposed the Lisbon Treaty on a France that in a popular referendum rejected the same text presented to them as the European Constitution; they announced four key demands. That the people should have the right to initiate a referendum to modify the constitution and that all significant modifications should be submitted for approval by popular referendum. That the people should have the ability to modify laws or to introduce new laws by referendum as they should see fit. That the people should have the right to call a referendum on new laws voted by parliament. That the president should be constrained to present treaties and international agreements to the people for their approval by referendum. They further declared that the Gilets Jaunes would stick together until demands for a new referendum law have been met.
It is understandable that during the end of the year holidays and through the winter months, that such a disparate movement should lose momentum. The question is whether those supporters and active members, who are now turning to more personal activities, will return in the new year and if so when exactly. It is certain that when faced with bills and making ends meet at the end of the month, that the only low cost activities that remain will be getting in touch on social media, putting on a reflective vest and meeting with like minded people at the local round-about or public square. Some are calling for an Act VI as early as this weekend. With Christmas only two days away, participation is likely to dwindle even further.
Comparisons have been made with the Maidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine during 2014, which also took place over the winter months. However there are important differences. The core Maidan protesters became increasingly violent, especially in the month of January. This violence led many of the earlier and more peaceful Maidan participants to abandon the movement. The core Gilets Jaunes have always called for non-violence. The worst of the looting and vandalism that occurred on December 1st and 8th has been attributed, even by the mainstream media, to fringe elements. Many Gilets Jaunes have tried to stop other protesters from committing acts of vandalism. Since December 8th, while violence is still a factor, such acts have been on the wane. The Maidan protests were focused primarily on Maidan Square in the heart of Kiev, where they had a fair amount of local support and where protesters built an encampment and were even provided with rows of port-a-potties as for a music festival or similar event. The Gilets-Jaunes are from outside of Paris and les Champs Elysees and the neighborhoods surrounding them are historically the neighborhoods of the French and European elite, who are unlikely to offer any support, or port-a-potties, for the rural working class or to tolerate any form of permanent encampment. The Gilets-Jaunes have had just as much if not more success with their provincial protests as with their much more mediatized Saturdays in Paris. Maidan was mainly centered in Kiev and got little rural support. At the rural French roadblocks that the Gilets-Jaunes have established, they are often on good speaking terms with the police, who are often neighbors or even cousins, contrary to the images shown of confrontations in Paris. At Maidan the protesters were far more confrontational especially with the elite forces from the Berkut special police.
Police officers are equally the victims of the neo-liberal policies put into place by Macron and his predecessors. A number of police unions and police officers on social networks have announced Act I of their own protest to take place on Thursday this week, the 20th of December. A gathering has been called to take place in front of the Commissariat place Clemenceau in Paris at 9:30 in the evening. Could it be that the winding down of the Gilets Jaunes protests has given them breathing room to acknowledge that they too support such demands, and that they too have similar grievances to the Gilets Jaunes?