December 8, 2018


My Saturday in Paris with the gilets jaunes (Gavin Mortimer, December 8, 2018, Spectator)

Crossing the Pont des Arts I spotted a Father Christmas in a yellow vest walking briskly along the river path. Under the bridge and out of sight of the police, Santa Claus stripped. I watched as he stuffed his outfit into his haversack and then strolled out wearing black jeans and a black hooded top. He was in his late twenties, clean cut, sporting a short back and sides; there was a touch of the military about his bearing as I tailed him towards the Louvre. [...]

As we approached the Place de la Madelaine the slogans on the boarded-up shops proliferated: 'Looting=Social Justice', 'Neither Patrie [Patriotism] or Patron [boss]', 'Banksters go to Hell', 'Neither Macron, nor Marine [Le Pen]', 'Vive Le Vandalisme' and on the shuttered entrance to the Chanel shop, 'A perfume of Victory'.

Another line of police vans barred the entrance to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, home to President Macron (and the British Embassy). Close by, a group of smiling gilets jaunes had established a command post and were distributing leaflets to anyone interested. I took one. It was entitled 'Let's Put an end to Poverty' and it called on the proletariat to abolish wages, state and money. 'We should have only one wish,' concluded the tract, 'the death of commodity'.

For an hour or so I hung around the Place de la Madelaine, making small talk with one or two gilets jaunes, most of whom seemed to be here to socialize as much as to demonstrate. Their jackets carried a range of messages, mostly about social justice and inequality; I saw a couple emblazoned with the slogan: 'Don't touch our cops'.

Then the atmosphere began to change. From the direction of Opera came a crowd of three or four hundred, few of whom were wearing yellow. Many had face masks, hoods or hats pulled down low. A few sported gas masks and moved with a testosterone strut. 

Posted by at December 8, 2018 1:33 PM