America’s Collapse: Asset Forfeiture

Global Research, July 25, 2019

Readers aware that I, and Dmitry Orlov, have been chronicling America’s rapid decline ask me, “where did it all begin?”  To  answer that question would require a massive history such as Jacques Bazun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. All I can do for you is to show you recent evidence from our time.

Let’s begin an occasional series on the subject with asset forfeiture.  Asset forfeiture was one of those tactics that Sir Thomas More warned against in the play, “A Man for All Seasons.” Cutting down a protective feature of law in order to better chase after devils exposes the innocent to injustice along with the guilty.  The devil was the Mafia.  Asset forfeiture originated as a way to prevent gangsters from using their ill-gotten gains to hire better lawyers to defend them than the US Justice Department could hire to prosecute them.  In effect, gangsters were denied the use of their money in their defense. This was the beginning of an unconstitutional assault on private property and due process, but the judiciary, desiring that the Mafia be imprisoned, ignored their constitutional responsibility. The judges joined in the chase after devils.

A next step was to go further in the “war on drugs” and confiscate the property of those suspected of drug crimes.  The Comprehensive Forfeiture Act of 1984 declared forfeitable all real property, including any right, title or interest in anything associated in any way with the commission of a drug crime. 

As I have stressed and as legal scholars formerly stressed, the law unfolds to the limit of its logic.  Innocent people have had their cars confiscated because they picked up a hitch-hiker who was in possession of drugs discovered in a police stop.  Federal agents have confiscated real estate on the grounds of which they conducted a “drug sting.”  As one of the participants in the sting committed a crime, the property chosen for the sting can be confiscated on the grounds that the property  “facilitated a drug crime.”  Multimillionaire Donald Scott was shot dead by police in his home on his 200-acre estate in Malibu, California, because of a conspiracy to seize Mr. Scott’s home on the theory that there was “probable cause” to think that the heir to a vast European chemical and cosmetic fortune was growing marijuana somewhere on his estate (The Tyranny of Good Intentions, pp. 117-120).

Asset forfeiture soon jumped beyond drug crimes to all crimes.  A family lost their motel because a prostitute rented a room in which she conducted her business.  The motel had unknowingly “faciliated a crime.”  Asset forfeiture permits a person’s property to be confiscated even though the owner was not a participant in the crime and had no knowledge of the crime.

There have been vast numbers of innocent American tax-paying victims of police stealing their property under asset forfeiture law. Over the years I have reported cases, and Lawrence Stratton and I addressed police theft from the innocent public in The Tyranny of Good Intentions published in 2000 and a new edition in 2008.  The injustice done to so many Americans is one cost of asset forfeiture laws.  The criminalization of police departments is another cost.

Local TV stations in Tennessee, for example, have reported many instances of police from different local jurisdictions fighting over seizure rights on different stretches of Interstate 40.  The police stop cars with out-of-state tags, search the cars and passengers, and if they find cash in the amount of $100 or greater the police confiscate it on the grounds that the amount indicates the selling of drugs or the intended purchase of drugs. On other pretexts the police seize the cars leaving the family on foot in a strange land.

In The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Larry Stratton and I tell the story of Selena Washington who was stopped on I-95 in Florida on her way to purchase construction materials to repair her hurricane-damaged home. She doubted the building materials company would accept a large check from a black woman and had with her the insurance settlement of $19,000 in cash.  Police had set up roadblocks in order to rob people and confiscated her money without even taking her name. With the aid of an attorney and proof of insurance settlement, she was able to recover $15,000 or 79% of her money.  To get her money back, she had to agree that the police could keep $4,000.  I don’t know what the attorney’s fees were. Most likely, the bandit police prevented the full restoration of her home, just as when the police steal a person’s car they prevent the person from going to work and earning a living. Is the person still responsible for car payments when their car is stolen by police?

Clearly, neither the police nor the local governments that allegedly oversee the police are concerned  about the career-destroying impositions, along with the deaths, that they impose on the people who pay their salaries. Why do the idiot “law and order conservatives” romanticize the police?  How utterly stupid can a person be?

The Orlando Sentinel investigated police stops in Volusia County, Florida, and concluded that the police had used pretexts to confiscate tens of thousands of dollars from motorists.  Only four of the motorists managed to get all of their money back.

Despite massive police abuse, or is it merely enforcement, of forfeiture laws, the practice continues to expand.  The public acceptance of police as criminal organizations has resulted in new schemes for stealing people’s property.  Police stop motorists and on any number of pretexts impound their car. Impound and storage fees rapidly mount, making it impossible for anyone other than a well-to-do person to recover their car.  The cars are then sold to a contractor. The August 2019 issue of Car and Driver describes how this works in Chicago.  It is a tale of banditry.  And it goes on right in front of our eyes, and nothing is done about it.

When the police who are paid by the public to “serve and protect” instead rob and murder without accountibility, not even insouciant Americans can deny the devastating evidence of American legal, political and societal collapse.

*

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Appeal for help by Ollie Richardson and the Saker (IMPORTANT!)

Appeal for help by Ollie Richardson and the Saker (IMPORTANT!)

July 23, 2019

Dear friends,

As you may be aware, during the first half of this year I have been reporting on the “Yellow Vests” movement in France whilst being in the center of it. Since February 2019 (after I watched in horror on a live feed as a Yellow Vest’s hand was blown off by a grenade the week prior) I have travelled into central Paris every Saturday and observed for myself the now well-known protests against the current French government.

I’ve taken photos and recorded videos for the purpose of disseminating them on social media, hoping to counter the biased reports published by the mainstream media. In late March I decided to start writing articles on this subject (published on The Saker) and up the ante. We are now in the summer, and I have produced many articles about the “Yellow Vests” that were the result of taking some serious risks (I’ve already been hit by a detonating grenade and almost detained on May 1st because I, in my black Donetsk People’s Republic t-shirt and black trousers, apparently resembled a Black Bloc member) and walking/running kilometre after kilometre in order to keep up with the pace of events. In order to understand what is actually happening I have had to acquaint myself with the different aspects of the movement and acquire the trust of the “Yellow Vests”.

In the video below you can see me at Place de la Republique in April (in the same DPR t-shirt; you can see a bandage on my arm from the aforementioned grenade incident) about to leave the protest, when a bleeding Yellow Vest is plonked in front of me. I witnessed the sequence of events, and the police indeed violated human rights by bludgeoning a peaceful person who posed no threat and just wanted to leave the Square.

Sadly, this is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the “Yellow Vests” movement. The systematic use of police violence in order to intimidate and silence those who oppose Macron’s policies is unacceptable and factually criminal. But what is happening in France is much more than just Saturday demonstrations. Macron’s government barely has the time to sweep one scandal under the carpet before another one erupts. And the reporting on these scandals in the Anglophone mainstream media has been either non-existent or frankly pitiful. For example, how many readers know about Steve from Nantes? Or Alexandre Benalla? Francois de Rugy’s lobster dinners? Radioactive leaks in the water supply? The backdoor privatisation of the airports? Zineb Redouane? The list is very long, and in some respects it makes “European” and “democratic” post-Maidan Ukraine blush. And yes, what is happening in France is directly connected to events in all theaters of military and informational operations. Every actions has a reaction.

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Me at a Yellow Vests protest on July 13th in Paris

In order to continue my work with the Yellow Vests (#GiletsJaunes) movement I am seriously in need of financial help. I have done what I can so far with very limited resources to provide the best coverage I can of what is happening in France without the habitual mainstream media bias that we are all accustomed to and fed up of. This entails a certain level of danger, but as the saying goes – no risk, no reward.

During the autumn/winter of 2019 I want to, as a minimum:

• create and run a dedicated Yellow Vests website/hub;

• translate and publish a mass of information about the main demand of the Yellow Vests – Citizens’ Initiative Referendum – in the hope of raising awareness about alternatives to conventional party politics;

• provide a live stream that is more raw than state-funded media’s;

• continue my series of articles entitled “Inside the Yellow Vests”;

• travel to other French cities and document what is happening there in relation to the movement.

It is simply a case of the more means I have, the more I can achieve. I am present on the terrain and have created a network of contacts. I’ve lived the movement from the very beginning, and want to ensure that it receives the fair coverage in the English language that it deserves.

I have created a Patreon page that has a more in-depth description of my project, and I ask those who have enjoyed my “Yellow Vests” work so far to consider donating what they can in order to help me not only continue my existing work, but also to expand it.

I appreciate the support of each and every person!

Ollie Richardson

——-

Note by the Saker:

Dear friends,
For many weeks now we have been getting superb analyses by Ollie Richardson and equally superb translations of key Russian texts into English made by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard.
Some of the best reporting anywhere on the Internet about the Yellow Vests movement was recently made by Ollie.
Check out this page in which he summarizes his immense work: https://www.patreon.com/yellowvests
Well, guess what?  Ollie and Angelina are not only awesome members of our community, but also real people who have to pay their bills ontime.
Friends – we need to help them.  Not only does their superb work deserve our gratitude, but we also want them to keep writing for us.
I therefore ask all those who can afford it to go to this page: https://www.patreon.com/yellowvests and become patrons of Ollie’s crucially important work.
Many thanks in advance,

‘This Yellow Vest carnage’ more ‘French exceptionalism’

 

July 23, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog (cross-posted with PressTV by permission)

‘This Yellow Vest carnage’ more ‘French exceptionalism’

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea, and elsewhere. He is the author of “I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China.”)

At a recent demonstration against the recently fired, third-ranking French civil servant (the president of parliament), who had been caught enjoying jumbo lobster and 1,000-euro bottles of wine with his friends on the taxpayer’s centime, I chatted with a former political prisoner.

It may surprise some that he was a Westerner. The West is, of course, exceptional: everyone else has political prisoners, but there isn’t a single one in the free, free West.

He had just spent four months in prison for protesting with the Yellow Vests. In a story which appears trite but which I believed – given the fact that testimony by police cannot be questioned in France’s judicial system – he said that it was the protester next to him who had thrown something at the cops and not him. There was no falsehood in the intense bitterness with which he said, “Four months in prison – I wish that I actually had thrown it!”

He showed me the many scars and permanent knots on his wrists and forearms – defensive wounds caused by protecting himself from fiercely-armed, well-protected and ruthless riot police. I praised his sacrifice for the common good, but I did not tell him that this was exceptional: in the past eight months I had heard many similar stories. Just last weekend I saw children getting tear gassed, and yet another woman shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

This is carnage, pure and simple, and it happens all around France every Saturday starting around 11 am.

The biggest complaint of the Yellow Vests these days may not be against the French model of government, but towards a Western Mainstream Media which acts as if such carnage doesn’t exist.

If the world believed that the French system of governance was exceptional, then the repression of the Yellow Vest movement should forever silence that false claim. It has been eight months: their media system obviously cannot report on domestic political repression, and their political system can obviously perpetuate domestic repression with an impunity unparalleled in the world. In no other country has such regular, political repression occurred this century.

This ability to inflict such record-breaking repression while talking passionately about liberté – and being believed at home and abroad! – is the true “French exceptionalism”, and it is nothing to boast about or emulate.

Western propaganda has shut down all criticism of French repression in favor of hysterical and one-sided coverage of the protests in Hong Kong. Another widespread belief among Westerners is that they are exceptional in that their systems don’t permit the creation of “propaganda”, whereas that is the only thing the journalists of most other nations can do, especially nations like Russia, Iran, Syria, etc.

One thing about exceptionalists is their certainty of its permanence: it seems that once one is exceptional, one can never stop being exceptional, no matter how immorally one acts. Exceptionalism, once bestowed by God, can never be subject to a Day of Judgment, apparently. It’s a, uh, “unique” view….

Undoubtedly, the necessarily corollary to exceptionalism’s assertion that “We are different” is rarely stated but extremely important in order to understand the exceptionalist’s mindset, and it is: “while all the rest of you idiots are all the same”.

Those in the developing world are told that there is an enormous difference between Belgians and the English, for example. Even though the former is merely a peninsula of the latter, what a mighty chasm separates the Danes and the Germans! Yet in France all Blacks are just that – Blacks – even though they hail from parts as varied as West Africa, Madagascar and the Caribbean. In the US all Latinos – whether from the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego or Boston – are painted with the same brush. Of course, in both countries Muslims are certainly all “Arabs”. This total nonsense illustrates an obsessive self-esteem which necessarily strains cooperation, diplomacy and true tolerance.

A difference between US and French claims for their own exceptionalism is that the US believes it is exceptional lock, stock and barrel, yet the French are more likely to claim their “cultural exceptionalism”.

It takes a bit of experience here to figure that out, but what they mean is that “White French culture” is exceptional: any influences from the nearby Muslim world, or anything their neo-imperial subjects might bring, or even the neighbouring Anglo-Saxon world – all are second-rate and somehow corruptive of an exceptionally wonderful culture which must never change.

What especially galls nations like Iran and many, many others regarding French exceptionalism are two things:

France claims to especially honor human rights… and yet how do we explain the the Yellow Vest repression? This was after we were told to believe that their bombs in Libya, their guns in the short-lived Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and their rapes in the Central African Republic are “humanitarian interventions”. We also were disgusted by the deification of the dangerous magazine Charlie Hebdo, which made millions by publishing Islamophobic pictures but never publish an anti-Jewish one.

It boggles to mind to think of the weight of the cognitive dissonance which France’s political and cultural elite must bear in their minds: they regularly imprison hundreds of protesters in the morning, and then in the afternoon talk about France being a beacon, champion and even the inventor of human rights.

It is simply intolerable to get lessons on human rights from a nation which so clearly violates them; it is intolerable because all nations must converse diplomatically, and yet France believes they can continually disrespects everyone else’s intelligence and get away with it.

Secondly, Iran is a nation which has been under hot and cold war for 40 years, therefore they have been truly living in wartime conditions, forced to have a true state of emergency in the past, and endure vast suffering caused by an illegal, homicidal blockade which aims to provoke either civil war or all-out war. France, however, suffers none of these hardships, and yet are more homicidal by multiple orders of magnitude.

How can Iran have such a very poor image and France such a positive image, given the former’s unjust handicaps and the latter’s lack of restraint, common decency and refusal to cooperate? Part of it is Iranophobic propaganda, and the other part is propaganda which champions the alleged legitimacy of “French exceptionalism”.

However, current anthropological scholarship is finally shedding their West-centric blinders to realise that France is not at all the “birthplace of human rights”: the conception of individual rights in today’s West was yet another resource stolen from the American Indians, namely the Iroquois Confederacy in the northeastern US. This fascinating subject, which academics simply must study,certainly seems logical – where was the conception of individual freedom in France’s long history of an absolute monarchy which was as absolute as anywhere in Europe? They obviously learned it from someone else, namely the Indians they came into contact with. To me, the Iroquois seemed to be about as freedom-loving as your average, ever-roaming Iranian nomad, but the point here is not to make exceptional claims about who invented human rights – the point is: the French did not invent them, as they claim.

It is inherent in countries which assert their exceptionalism – and perhaps in all Western Liberal Democracies – to deny shared authorship of the world’s many fine ideas and concepts, as they endlessly promote individualism and do not prize the communal, collective spirit.

I can report that those incredibly brave Yellow Vests who are still protesting – in the face of all the guaranteed state violence – repeatedly tell me what respect they have for Iran and its modern governmental system. They routinely tell me what shame they have in their own government. Indeed, the Yellow Vests are the new, courageous political vanguard of France. Unlike the French 1%’s support of aristocratic Western Liberal Democracy, Yellow Vests display French values which are in common with those around the world: solidarity, bravery, faith and self-sacrifice.

If the Yellow Vests could ever win political or cultural power they would certainly end the hypocrisy of “French exceptionalism”, which they correctly see as an unwanted yoke which only perpetuates France’s ongoing domestic repression.

The French have a fine saying: “One time does not make a custom.”

However, eight months does. The Yellow Vests obviously cannot be distracted with the false pride of “French exceptionalism” – they are busy defending themselves from the carnage such arrogance inevitably provokes.

Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 3)

July 17, 2019

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

As we come closer to August, when most of France (and Europe) is in holiday mode, I think that it is an apt moment to summarise what has happened in relation to the Yellow Vests movement since the last time I wrote about this topic, which happened to be part 2 of my “Inside the Yellow Vests” series (part 1 can be found here).

Those who follow events from afar and thus don’t have access to a reliable and consistent flow of information will probably consider that the Yellow Vests movement was just a flash in the pan and is now in the past, or that it achieved its aim and that everything is now great in France. Of course, they’d be very much mistaken. It’s important to think of the Yellow Vests movement as a stage of a process rather than just a fashionable trend that distinguishes itself by occasionally walking in a column and hurling insults at law enforcement. But what “process” do I speak of?

I’m sure that I will receive abuse from so-called “libertarians” and the like, but the process is capitalism. And the stage of the process I refer to is one that is relatively new to us – when the exploitation of labour reaches a critical level. A deadly cocktail of the consequences of colonisation, an oligarchic system, a tribalistic society, a total lack of sovereignty, a frighteningly ugly population pyramid, etc have resulted in what we are now seeing: the derailment of the train of “modernity”.

Essentially, everything of value has been sucked dry by the American imperialistic project known as the “EU”. The middle class has been demolished and replaced by a working class living on credit. The youth are being robbed of their future, and pensioners are being robbed of their legacy. The Macron regime’s ethos is simple: work more; be paid less. Starve infrastructure, but make timely investments into personal offshores. Privatise everything in the interests of pals, present it as “reforms”. In general, it’s a classic neoliberal hit job. I can write much more about the mechanics of the “Le République En Marche” scam, but I prefer to keep this article laconic. So let’s now move on to what the situation now is – after the May 1st protest, where my last article (part 2) ended.

The May 1st protest was supposed to be a real missile, but it was smothered by the regime due to one main reason: the unions are rotten to the core, thus convergence with them is like pissing in the wind. They don’t care about the Yellow Vests and are ultimately in the regime’s pocket. Another factor was the pretty lame route chosen for the demonstration – almost a straight line, which the police can encircle easily. But in a way this flop was a blessing in disguise, because the Yellow Vests movement was starting to be outmanoeuvred by the regime. There was too much focus on Saturday protests and a lack of ideas concerning what else to do. Non-sanctioned protests became frankly impossible, since the police can read social media too.

In June the initiator of the Yellow Vests movement (not a “leader” per say) had the balls to say what needed to be said, even if it would initially upset many other Yellow Vests: the themed Saturday marches have become quite pathetic and ineffective, and thus more radicals actions are needed. And his video message had the desired reaction. The activity at the toll roads, where the Yellow Vests hold the barrier open and let travellers pass for free, had a surge. The number of Yellow Vests who waved flags on bridges over highways also surged. It was understood that a stake mustn’t be placed on just one action; otherwise the movement will become stale.

And now fast forward to June 22nd – when the Yellow Vests tried to block the transport infrastructure of the country. What happened? The regime had to again try to deflate the Yellow Vests’ tyres, and thus arrested and interrogated/intimidated one of the social media personalities who promoted the blockade. The Yellow Vests deleted all their live streams from this day too, as a precautionary measure, since the police were hunting for “organisers”.

So, on the surface it looks like the police (and the Interior Ministry) have adjusted well and are successfully coping with the situation, and that the Yellow Vests simply are not able to achieve anything, and this is why the participation is becoming less and less. WRONG! Firstly, the participation is at equilibrium with the level of repression. It is normal that the numbers reduce the tighter the state apparatus becomes. It shows that the state is afraid, and that the Yellow Vests indeed pose a threat. The turnout on Saturdays is still impressive and keeps the police mobilised. Secondly, the puppet media lies all the time about numbers, and parrots on a loop “the numbers decrease, the movement deflates”. Yet on June 29th in Paris there was close to 10,000 people there (my photos and videos from this day can be found here). Of course, the TV pretended like nothing was happening – the usual deliberate total boycott.

I am now going to share with you some exclusive information that should help to understand where things currently stand and what direction we’re heading in. My source will remain undisclosed for security reasons.

In order to cope with the constant Yellow Vests demos, law enforcement is using a rotational system with the forces based overseas. This gives the illusion of some rest, whilst in reality work isn’t being paid. In fact, the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner himself admitted that there is no money for overtime.

In connection with this, the police unions are fed up and try to blackmail the regime into paying more. They want to protest in the street themselves, but the regime is clear – keep your mouth shut unless you want to be unemployed. The story found here is related to this circus.

If to look at the average level of participation on a Saturday, then the leader is Toulouse. And the police know that the heart of the Yellow Vests movement is here, and not in Paris. This explains why the police are extra brutal in Toulouse, with the video below serving as an example:

The police (CRS in particular) are not happy about potentially not being able to go on holiday this summer. To stand in the heat in full gear & receive insults/glass bottles all day is quite torturous. They try to force Saturday protests to end quickly (making the column walk quicker) so they can go home for the weekend. So to be dispatched to Toulouse for the weekend is like drawing the short straw. Of course, Paris isn’t any better, but it is the capital, and so the urge to defend it is stronger. It’s at least a better excuse for the wife to justify why you won’t be home for the weekend.

How much is each CRS company being paid by Macron (via the taxpayer), despite the “austerity” policies being imposed on the public? If they leave their regional base for more than 12 hours it’s €40 extra per employee (known as IJAT). If the hours of service exceed 8, then it is classed as overtime. So here is an example: working from 04:00 Saturday to 00:00. That’s 12 hours of overtime at €10 per hour = €120. Add in IJAT (paid every 3 months), and each Saturday costs the regime €160 per CRS employee. Each company consists of 80 police officers, and there are also additional expenses for accommodation, food, fuel, etc. But this is still chump change for the regime. A tear gas grenade costs €30 per unit. A GLI-F4 grenade costs €40 per unit. A “désencerclement” grenade costs €50 each. Police commissioners earn €3k-5k each month (Christmas bonus is €40k-70k). So to say that there is money for public services is to tell a massive lie.

During the May 1st demo there was 40 squadrons of gendarmes and only 20 CRS companies. On May 2nd, at dawn, 11 of these 40 squadrons departed to protect Macron’s museum visit to Amboise. Talk about being treated like a slave – hence the high police suicide numbers (59 so far in 2019)…

Between Act 1 and Act 18 (March 16, 2019) the police helicopters used in just Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, and Nantes to monitor the protests have racked up 717 hours of flight at €1500 an hour. I.e., the taxpayer has paid €1.01m to be filmed just during this time. And during Act 3 in Paris (see video below) the regime wasted €300,000 just on grenades.

Meanwhile, over this summer the regime will close down 400 schools due to a “lack of funding”. Go figure!

So if to return to my point about law enforcement being stretched to the limit, the scheme for the rest of the year is established. The Yellow Vests’ triangle of actions is: toll road ops (even if the police disperse the Yellow Vests), roundabout occupations (even if the police demolish the Yellow Vests’ cabins), and Saturday demos (even if they are more localised). All 3 types of actions complement each other.

It is understood that tackling the regime head-on is not possible since it is too well armed. This isn’t 1968. Instead it has become a war of attrition. And for the regime, whose troops are tired and pissed off, it becomes a mental challenge. The police are under pressure to not make mistakes, for gross errors (like killing a Yellow Vest in plain sight) can act like a flame to a dynamite barrel. At the same time, the Yellow Vests are under pressure to not be jailed and thus be eliminated from the “game”. There is a kind of equilibrium. Just in June alone the police made one massive error that was committed outside the framework of the Yellow Vests – they most likely killed a young man during a music festival. Read more here (use Google translate if need be).

But through persistence and using the aforementioned triangle effectively, the police (and their resources) are being slowly exhausted and pushed closer and closer to the limit. This summer the movement will become more localised, but what will happen afterwards? I suspect that the situation will heat up in conjunction with the next batch of price hikes. I.e., from the autumn onwards. It is at this moment that the Yellow Vests will become most dangerous, since the repression can’t really be upped by another notch because the illusion of “democracy” would be definitively obliterated.

In the background, work is ongoing to get as many people to sign the semi-referendum against the privatisation of the airports as possible. Firstly, 4 million signatures are needed before spring 2020. Then over a hundred deputies in parliament must vote for it. Losing this battle will be a big blow for the regime.

Hospitals, firemen, teachers, migrants, environmentalists etc are all regularly striking. Public services are collapsing at an alarming speed. The regime fears a convergence of battles and will struggle to stem the tide. A general strike is problematic to organise, but not impossible. The union leaders are the main problem. But in any case, Macron is already starting to lay the foundations for his 2022 electoral campaign. He knows that he can win any battle versus Le Pen thanks to his pocket media. He desperately tries to smear the Yellow Vests and keep the bourgeoisie plugged into the matrix of consumerism.

Also, the Republican Party has effectively been liquidated, and its electorate has shifted over to Macron (LREM). In short: there is no political solution. The only solution is the Swiss style of governance. But that means to remove the current oligarchical system. The Yellow Vests intelligentsia is trying to set in motion the first stage of implementing the Swiss system (Citizens’ Initiative Referendum). I recommend reading this website for more information. The sense is to create a demand for it at the grassroots level first.

Concerning what happened on Bastille Day (and the night celebration of Algerians), I recommend checking out the following links (bear in mind that on this day the Yellow Vests remained incognito and abandoned the yellow vest):

  • My real-time Twitter reportage, where I transmitted what I witnessed on the terrain – link;
  • My Twitter thread of conclusions written in the morning of July 15th – link;
  • My photos and videos from this day – link;
  • Video of a woman being attacked – link;
  • Video showing a woman receiving a tear gas puck in the eye – link;
  • Video showing tourists fleeing the gas on the Champs-Elysees – link;
  • Video showing a man being dragged along the floor by the cops – link;
  • Video showing the police hunt down and wound Algerians – link;
  • Video showing a 6-year-old girl suffering from the tear gas – link;
  • Video showing a woman being bludgeoned by the cops – link;

I can quickly summarise the day as follows: wild protest at 9am outside Moulin Rouge, the police gas and disperse it; after Macron’s pathetic parade, the Yellow Vests manage to penetrate the Champs-Elysees and occupy the upper part of it; the police gas the entire avenue and struggle to keep the Yellow Vests away; the Yellow Vests encircle the Arc de Triomphe, the police are unable to disperse them and resort to gassing everyone, including tourists; the police groundlessly detain some Yellow Vests to intimidate the others, and thus manage to freeze the situation; the whole avenue is flooded with Algerians at 11pm, the police use violence all the night to prevent the avenue from being completely swamped.

Me on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day (I have white stuff on my face because “street medics” sprayed me in the eyes with a special substance that negates the effects of tear gas)

There is one particular aspect of what happened on July 14th in Paris that I would like to dedicate some space in this article to, because, if to be honest, it sent a shill down my spine.

After I had closely observed the wild protest in the morning and escaped the ensuing police assault, I headed towards the Champs-Elysees. As I arrived on the avenue I saw that lots of police vans were in the area, as well as riot police. I followed behind the riot police, who were moving down a street, and soon learned that other cops had encircled some Yellow Vests as they tried to penetrate the avenue. Legally speaking, this is not something they can be arrested for, but this didn’t stop the regime from bringing the notorious police bus to the scene and taking the captured Yellow Vests away for ID checks (although this could be done in the street, it’s just that Macron wants to intimidate the Yellow Vests as much as possible).

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An illustrative photo from May 25th showing the police bus being parked on the Champs-Elysees, ready to take away Yellow Vests who tried to protest on the avenue


One of the captured Yellow Vests who goes by the name “Mary On” filmed the moment she and others were encircled by the police and not allowed to go anywhere.

After some time has passed, the encircled Yellow Vests are herded onto a police bus and told that they are going to the commissariat in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

Whilst they wait for the bus to set off, they start chanting the usual anti-Macron songs.

After the bus finally set off and travelled in a Northeast direction, the Yellow Vests start to become nervous because they are not at all in the 8th arrondissement. They appear to be in some kind of run down and abandoned industrial area with train tracks running in parallel.

After the bus finally stops, “Mary On” starts to film her surroundings, saying “we are not at all in the 8tharrondissement, we are at a Yellow Vest detention center”. She shows the view out of the bus window, which I can only describe as a horror. She herself describes it as “inhuman”.

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by social media followers to use her phone to locate where she and her fellow Yellow Vests are exactly. This was the result:

They are in the 18th arrondissement, at Porte de la Chapelle, which is one of the most run down areas of Paris. Put it this way: it’s not somewhere I’d like to walk around at night.

In her next video, “Mary On” describes how after being taken off the bus, her ID was verified by the cops, which took 2 hours, and she was allowed to leave.

So what is going on here? Firstly, the police have no right to detain anyone for just walking the streets. And since the Yellow Vests were not wearing yellow vests, it is difficult to charge them with “conspiring to damage property in a group” – the habitual article of the Criminal Code that is pinned on Yellow Vests. But what the police can do is continue their unlawful practice of keeping Yellow Vests in detention without pressing any charges, with the added flexibility of using “ID checks” as an excuse to move Yellow Vests away from an area. And this is exactly what happened on July 14th. Twice, in fact. Whilst the videos above show what happened to a group of Yellow Vests on a side street of the Champs-Elysees, I myself witnessed the police try to intimidate all the Yellow Vests who had reached the Arc de Triomphe by encircling a group and herding them onto a police bus on the avenue itself. And they also, most likely, were transported to this horrible looking camp.

Some readers may say “Don’t exaggerate by using words like ‘camp’, after all, these people were released and only kept for a couple of hours”. My response would be: “It’s not me who is using this word – it is the Yellow Vests themselves who are using it”. Yes, they refer to concentration camps, they recall the Vichy camps like the one in Drancy, and they create graphics like the one below:

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“This is really the impression we had, because we were told to get on the bus and nothing else, we did not know where we were going, and on the way in 4 people were waiting for us in front of a table with a pencil and paper to note our identity, and before this we had to be patted down and have our bags searched.”

The sheer horror (and I use this word consciously) of what these Yellow Vests experienced – being lawlessly taken to an unknown location where there are abandoned warehouses, railway tracks, and barbed wire fences – is almost certainly an act of psychological warfare. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if inside the building there are Hilton hotel conditions, what matters is the general aesthetics, which apparently the Macron regime thinks the Yellow Vests are deserving of. In the wider context of the repression being unleashed against not only the Yellow Vests, but also doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, students, etc, my use of the word horror is fully justified. In essence, if one doesn’t like the neoliberal reforms being rolled out by the Elysee, then one will be groundlessly taken to a camp like this one, as if they are terrorists, which is ironic taking into account the French government’s support for Al Qaeda & Co.

After this scandal started to circulate on social media, the mainstream media was forced to start damage control – Liberation and LCI being two examples. The article of the former is determined to portray the facility as just a banal police station, saying that the police headquarters of Paris “seem to be surprised by this controversy”.

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One Yellow Vest named Marion told the Liberation agency:

 “They caught us in the street without giving us a reason … Then we were told we could leave after the parade, but eventually a police bus came and we were told that we were going to the 8th police station. A friend of mine was sent there. Except that in the bus, demonstrators who know Paris well understood that it was not the right road.”

The final paragraph is very telling:

“When asked about the number of people transported to the Hébert police station, and the reasons for the arrests, neither the prefecture of Paris nor the prosecutor of Paris were able to answer us, each footballing the issue. A judicial source indicated, however, that 48 major protesters were placed in custody following the protests on the Champs Elysees, without specifying whether they were taken to the police station of the 18th [arrondissement].”

Imagery is a very powerful thing, and the image below is simply abhorrent. If the people on the bus were mass murderers, paedophiles, rapists, etc then that would be one thing, but they are just ordinary French citizens who wanted to come to the Champs-Elysees and boo/jeer Emmanuel Macron. Is the fact of their arrest and “deportation” a sign of democracy? Are they not allowed to express themselves freely – after all, they are not USA NGO fifth column agitators, but genuinely angry and impoverished French citizens? If not, then it’s time to stop the blah blah blah about “democracy”, because in reality it is more of a dictatorship. Actually, there is a formed pattern whereby a government that the West describes as a “dictatorship” is actually democratic, and visa versa.

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In France it is a case of “work, consume, and shut your mouth”. And the latest Francois De Rugy scandal (he resigned on July 16th) shows once again that there is one law for the “plebs”, and another for the elites. The figureheads of the Yellow Vests movement weren’t even allowed to stay on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day, and were in fact fined despite being initially allowed to enter the avenue and having their ID checked multiple times. Of course, the mainstream media loyal to Macron also deploy damage control vis-à-vis this disgrace too.

With the prospect of another 5 years of Macron looming over France, the Yellow Vests movement is not going to disappear anywhere. On the contrary, after the summer, and especially after the next round of price hikes, the fire will burn even stronger. Macron’s government has already had 11 resignations, and it is very likely that this trend will continue. But the solution is not a change of government or an early election. The sole solution is to implement the Citizens’ Initiative Referendum, for it is only this system of governance that can reconcile the Yellow Vests with the rest of society. A failure to meet this main demand is an invitation for civil war.

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July 2019, Paris (top left = tear gas puck in the eye; top right = man unconscious after being bludgeoned by the police; bottom left = another truncheon wound; bottom right = a pensioner has a heart attack whilst being detained)

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Paris July 1789 

Inside the Yellow Vests: What the Western media will not report (Part 2)

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

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Background

When the words “Yellow Vests”/“Yellow Jackets”/“Gilets Jaunes” are heard or read by someone who is more inclined to read sources of information that cannot be described as mainstream/corporate media, they most likely will say “Ah yes, I know who they are/what it is!” and recount what they heard or saw in the past when this topic was popular… for about a month. Or more specifically, during November-December 2018 when images such as the one below (a still from this video) were being widely disseminated.

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Then the Venezuela coup attempt, or Brexit, or Assange, etc retakes centre stage and what is happening in France fades into the background. What I am describing is simply the nature of the “news” cycle, and not a pretention to its consumers.

Hence why in March 2019 I wrote an article (part 1) based on my own primary research that aimed to convey the most important events in the history of the Yellow Vests movement. Whilst the information presented in this article is far from being comprehensive, it is also unproductive to report as isolated events every single perceived drama that happens both on the ground and on social networks. For analytical purposes, it is much more efficient – in an era where Twitter dictates the speed and pattern of the flow of information – to concatenate information and to zoom out enough in order to capture enough context without entering the realm of ultra-metaphysical babble.

But of course, over 2 months has passed since this article was published, and the situation has traversed along many twists and turns since. But if the main aim of the movement is to remove the neoliberal butcher Macron and dismantle party politics in general, then the destination is still somewhere beyond the horizon. Instead of writing another chronology of events and focusing on visual cues, such as police violence and photos of large processions, in this article I will simply write ten conclusions featuring examples that can be made based on 28 (at the time of writing) straight Saturday’s of mobilisation. I should stress that they are in no particular order.

1. The Yellow Vests are a catalyst for change, but do not embody some end product.

The French political scientist Samuel Hayat stated in an interview with Mediapart – one of the few independent media resources in France that supports the Yellow Vests – the following (translation is my own):

I do not think that this movement upsets the political field, even though the will of the Yellow Vests to get out of the partisan field is strong. Although the disrepute of politicians will only increase, the latter seems determined to continue to act as if everything could continue as before.

On the other hand, I think that this mobilisation will profoundly change the space of the social movements by allowing people, previously excluded, to enter it. Many Yellow Vests who did not participate until now have adopted the habit of demonstrating. I think they will not leave and that putting on once or putting on again a yellow vest will give them legitimacy in order to join this space of social movements.

There is no reason, in my opinion, for the movement to stop. The Yellow Vests have withstood so much slander, disrepute, repression, manoeuvres like the ‘grand debate’ that I do not see how the school holidays could stop it. One can imagine a base of mobilisations of low intensity, at the local and national level, with a regular rise in conflicts and grafts on more sectoral or partisan movements. In my opinion, not only will the Yellow Vests continue to fight, but they have created the conditions for the power of social movements of all kinds to increasingly rise in the coming years.”

In other words, the Yellow Vests movement is not the “be all and end all”, but a catalyst for other processes. Think of it like a battering ram against the fortress of pseudo-democracy – it creates breaches that in theory can be made even wider by additional forces. But the big mistake here is to think that this means that all the forces work harmoniously towards a sole objective or aim. This is not the case, and more on this topic can be read later.

2. Serious work on implementing “RIC” is ongoing in the background.

Whilst the cameras focus on the street marches and the clashes with the police, serious effort (mostly in the form of conferences – here is an example) is being made to implement a replacement for party politics – the main demand of the Yellow Vests. It is known in French as “Référendum d’initiative citoyenne”, which translates as Citizens’ Initiative Referendum.

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What is it? In simple words, it is direct democracy Swiss-style. The booklet photograph below sent to me by an acquaintance aids understanding of what this means. It can either take the form of the top left example (“direct democracy”), the top right example (“representative democracy”), or the bottom example, which is a hybrid of the former two (“liquid democracy”).

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An interesting democratic innovation currently in experimentation in some countries of the world such as Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Brazil … mainly implemented within the pirate parties of these countries.

The point here is that no concrete form has been decided on, since matters are still at the experimental stage. The infographic below, created by the “Objectif RIC” organisation (which is 100% citizen activism), divides the process of implementation into 3 stages: inform, assemble, vote.

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In truth, citizen work on implementing “RIC” has been taking place for over 40 years in France. No government ever adopted it, since sawing the branch on which one sits isn’t convenient, but the demand for it grows more and more with each passing year (and governmental scandal). For my intents and purposes, the infographic below can be summarised in only one phrase: grassroots activism. It cannot be sprinkled on Élysée Palace like magic power, but the seeds can be planted locally and carefully fed/watered. Will fruits grow overnight? No. Do the Yellow Vests themselves understand this? Gradually, yes.

In this article I don’t intend to develop on the topic of “RIC” and write in detail about it, but I think that the video below can give laypersons a general (digestible) idea as to why it’s in demand.

3. Concerning the Saturday marches, things have cardinally changed.

As I alluded to earlier, the yellow processions in the streets are not the alpha and omega of what is happening in France. They are an element, certainly, but nothing more (and nothing less either). Here it is possible to enter into deep analysis of the process of organising protests, focusing on individuals, and even dissect video footage of the marches. But, as I said above, this is not especially constructive and ultimately will not teach anyone living outside of France anything that they can apply in their own country – after all, neoliberalistic globalism took root in all English-speaking countries.

What can be said however is that ever since Macron banned protests on the Champs-Élysées in Paris after the March 16th rampage (violators will receive a €135 fine, which becomes €375 if it’s not paid within 45 days), replaced the head of the Paris prefecture, and ordered local mayors to create certain zones in town and city centres across the country in which Yellow Vests protests are banned; ever since the Constitutional Court adopted the so-called “anti-casseur” law at the order of Macron (the police can stop and search anyone without having a formal reason to do so – something I’ve experienced enough times to now be fed up of it); ever since the police started to deliberately mutilate people for the purpose of psychological warfare, the demonstrations became seriously throttled. The initial tactic that in fact launched the Yellow Vests protests on November 17th 2018 was to just turn up at the Arc de’Triomphe without a sanction from the prefecture. But this was BEFORE the aforementioned law was passed, and BEFORE the Champs-Élysées ban (the metro stations on the avenue are now closed on Saturdays).

This new gear engaged by the flywheel of Macronian repression resulted in the Yellow Vests adapting a new tactic (it’s important to note that no sole “leader” organises demonstrations, but a group of “leaders” – yes): sanctioned protests, with the route approved by the prefecture. This tactic change is a double-edged sword, since the more radical anti-Macron protestors consider that a column encircled by the police from the start to the end of the route, with a dispersal time of 5:30pm, is not exactly something that makes the government poop its pants. But on the other hand, it allows a large group of people wearing yellow vests to assemble in a single place. The subsequent 4 Saturdays followed this scheme, with those who prefer more offensive actions (and who can only travel for financial/logistical reasons) preferring to either stay at home, due to the fear of being mutilated, or to protest locally. I personally participated in these “peaceful” protests and am glad that I did so, since I learnt a lot about the nuts and bolts of the movement as a result.

On April 20th another large non-sanctioned event (called “ultimatum”) was supposed to happen in Paris, and in hindsight I can say that it was start of an experiment (I stress: this is my opinion, the Yellow Vests did not officially declare an experiment or use this word in social media chatter). As I reported at the time, some Yellow Vests planned to all gather in one place (without a sanction) and to do something – probably to storm the Champs-Élysées, but we’ll never know what would have been decided since things went pear-shaped early. At the same time, other Yellow Vests planned to take part in a sanctioned march from Bercy to Place de la Republique. The plan to assemble without permission failed miserably since the police encircled the announced meeting place (and arrested and/or fined those who they could) and metro stations (even closing some stations), so plan B was to go to Bercy instead and take part in the sanctioned protest. As a result, and this was quite predictable, the sanctioned protest soon degenerated into a wild one, with the route to PdlR being invented on the fly and Black Bloc joining the column.

The lesson learnt on this day was that non-sanctioned protests of the kind seen at the start of the movement are now simply not possible. But the experiment needed additional evidence, since errors in this tactic were noted (having many pre-assembly meeting places, thus allowing the police to nip things in the bud before they’ve even begun; insisting on wearing a yellow vest) and an improved one would later be deployed.

On May 18th the prominent Yellow Vests who generally favour sanctioned marches and are less militant than other prominent faces received a wake up call that would ultimately result in them giving their consent to try another tactic: the police treated their sanctioned rally like a non-sanctioned one (watch the video – skim through it from 38:00 onwards. One of the signatories of the march shouts through the megaphone “What are you doing?! It’s a sanctioned demo!”, since he doesn’t understand why in the past they were more forgiving and kept their distance, but on this day they are hugging the column very tightly). I suspect that this happened because a certain “leader” announced just after the May 11th demonstration that the sanctioned and themed marches were useless and won’t propel the movement anymore, and thus the police thought that maybe the Yellow Vests had “bad” intentions. They were wrong on this occasion, because it would be May 25th – “ultimatum” No. 3 – when the Yellow Vests would try to exit the framework of being “peaceful”.

On this day a new and improved tactic was deployed – all Yellow Vests had to go to the Champs-Élysées but withoutwearing a yellow vest. Since I don’t want to describe everything that happened on that day (and how I walked 15 kilometers for what some may say was nothing) in this article, I will just say that the tactic failed. The police already knew what was planned (they monitor social networks) and sent dozens upon dozens of goons to the avenue. I know that it has become almost cliché to say, but I honestly felt I was in Nazi Germany at this time. The way in which the cops combed the avenue and chased anyone who shouted anti-Macron slogans was eerie, to say the least (my discreet photos are here, although I was cautious to not give the cops an excuse to fine me). Plan B on this day was to gather at Place de la Republique at 2pm for a sanctioned assembly. A repetition of April 20th then happened – watch the video below:

Thus, the method that has proven to be the most effective given the circumstances is to organise a sanctioned protest and then start a riot. Even if the approved assembly point(s) and route are boxed in by the cops from start to finish, the protestors at least have the chance to form a large crowd. I stumbled across this balanced/grounded Facebook comment (I censored the author’s name and profile picture) on May 26th that offers a window into the thinking of the average Yellow Vest after the end of this experiment:

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“I understand … we are all unique and responsible individuals … and whatever happens we will be alone with the consequences of our choices … I also am nostalgic of the first demonstrations and their spontaneity … but I know today that they are no longer possible without paying a very high price … so I made the choice not to go to Paris this Saturday … because I knew what the risks were and I was personally not ready to run them … I have already lost a large part of my entourage, I assume, I receive complaints from my children who are starting to find the time to be long and our absence too frequent, I assume the fear of finding myself unjustly gassed, encircled, and potentially hurt for my ideas … but I was not ready to explain to my children that I have no more money because we will have incurred a €270 fine by participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, or not go home due to being detained on the day before the [EU] elections on which we base a small hope to show our anger. Obviously it is not right to have to risk all that in order to be able to express our opinions … but we are no longer in France of before… so I take my responsibilities and I adapt … So I went to [the sanctioned protest in] Amiens this Saturday … because the demo of [Sophie] Tissier [a fake Yellow Vest who always registers sanctioned protests in order to split the Yellow Vests up on Saturdays. I don’t know if she is a conscious saboteur or just an idiot, but her demos are a total waste of time – O.R ] – no thank you … now I do not blame anyone and remain an admirer of the courage of some and attempts made … and yes Amiens was not Paris and Paris missed me … I will come to the next sanctioned protest in Paris … and in the same way I will take onboard the reflections of those who think that this is not the solution … but everyone has to face their personal choices …”

For those laypersons who observe this experimental process from afar it seems like the movement is running out of steam (after all, the government takes great pleasure in disseminating its fake numbers for mobilisation and instructing its pocket media to repeat such mantras as “the numbers lessen”, “the movement is coming to a standstill”, etc), because there hasn’t been any large-scale rioting since March 16th. But this, indeed, only seems to be the case. When the movement is viewed from the perspective I described above (it’s not the alpha and omega), one can see that the movement does not “essoufflé” (run out of breath), but on the contrary, in the wider context of tightening police repression and intensifying media brainwashing (the worst example so far is when the government openly accused the Yellow Vests of attacking a hospital, before facts emerged an hour later proving this to be a total lie), the fact that the movement hasn’t surrendered and “dares” to continue acts as an additional thorn in the Macron regime’s side.

4. Exportation isn’t possible

The Yellow Vests protests didn’t just happen as a reaction to something that happened in November 2018, although the planned fuel tax was certainly what provoked the worst riots since 1968. France as a country of course has a history of “revolutions” and violent changes of power – alternating between a monarchy and a republic, so in this respect what is happening today is not much of a riddle, especially for historians like Samuel Hayat. But to throw yellow vests on British Brexiteers, for example, and to forecast a similar result would be most ridiculous.

Firstly, British people do not have the same mentality as French (both native and immigrants), and as we have seen, they prefer to use the ballot box (to vote for Nigel Farage’s “Brexit Party”) and remain “civilised”. Not to mention the fact that Margaret Thatcher strangled the protest movement and her noxious neoliberal successors hammered in additional nails. Secondly, Britain is still a regionally divided country, and what concerns Londoners might not necessarily matter to Yorkshire residents, not to mention the Welsh, Irish, or Scottish, and visa-versa. But at the same time, promoting the participative democracy model of decision-making wouldn’t count as exportation, since it’s not a French invention and has been implemented in different countries around the world. At the end of the day, France has its own contradictions, and in this regard the Yellow Vests are a manifestation of decisions made by its past rulers. An example of this was given above: previous governments’ lack of interest in implementing RIC. So, until this demand (which will grow exponentially) is met, whoever is President can also expect unrest if “reforms” and “austerity” are implemented.

An additional factor that also must be taken into account is the history of the Vichy regime founded in 1940. Again, it might seem cliché to cite a country’s Nazi-collaborator past, but it’s simply impossible to just pretend that it isn’t connected to today’s events. Hence why the Yellow Vests chant “Police nationale, milice du capital”, referencing Pétain’s henchmen and the role of the police today in protecting capitalists.

5. Talking about the influence of the CRIF lobby is difficult

In order to adequately understand the Yellow Vests movement, it is advisable to think of it as a slice of a many-layered cake. In the column that marches in sanctioned protests on Saturdays there are liberals of all shades who voted against Le Pen in 2017 (note: not for Macron) and like to think that they are morally superior because they wouldn’t say boo to a goose (LGBTists, environmentalists, pro-migrantists, unionists, Trotskyists, “Trente Glorieuses”-ists, feminists, etc), “anti-fascists” (they cooperate with the Yellow Vests but at the same time keep distance; they haven’t said anything about the Banderist regime in Kiev, and most likely can’t even point to Ukraine on a map, but believe that all governments are “fascist” and will thus attack the cops) blue collar workers (they do manual labour jobs and are typically more sincere than liberals; throwing a glass bottle at the cops is not an issue for them), immigrant youth (Sykes-Picot Arabs and Africans who do not conform to the field negro/house negro paradigm that capitalism imposes on them; they don’t tend to join a Black Bloc but prefer to mingle with the Yellow Vests), angry mothers (tough as nails and would demolish an unarmed cop in a fist fight; not to be confused with liberal feminists), militant pensioners (in difference to “Trente Glorieuses”-ists, they can often be seen defying the tear gas and even confronting the cops). But when the rioting begins, the liberals disappear and denounce “violence”, even though the state rapes them every single day (and bombs foreign countries using their tax money), and Black Bloc (youth who are a mixture of the more liberal protestors I described above, with a more “anarchist” tint) takes their place.

However, a public discussion about the main warmonger (for example) in France, the anti-Gilets Jaunes and pro-Israel lobby known as “Le Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France” (CRIF), is only possible with a narrow section of this slice (non liberals). There are of course Jews who are Yellow Vests, and they do publically counter the accusations that the movement is “anti-Semitic”. It is, however, possible to publically criticise the Bernard-Henri Lévy & Co war machine, since its track record in France has dirtied itself beyond the point where it can be whitewashed. There are also Yellow Vests who wave Palestinian flags at demonstrations and spread anti-apartheid materials.

CRIF’s campaign against the Yellow Vests led to Macron “adopting an international definition of anti-Semitism” that equates it to anti-Zionism. I.e., criticising Israel’s extermination of Palestinians suddenly became a criminal offence. The cherry on the cake: watch how the Alain Finkielkraut debacle led to this nauseating Macron-CRIF performance:

6. The police severely intimidated the “leaders” and impudently abuse their powers

Even if the Yellow Vests movement takes pride in “not having leaders” and having a “horizontal” structure, someone who for the first time observes the movement for a week will affirm the opposite – that it has leaders, and thus it is has vertical structure. They will see that in terms of the number of social media followers there are 4 main Yellow Vests who stand out but affirm that they are not leaders, and a group of 20 or so figures who play a supporting role. Some rarely take part in demonstrations but instead organise the RIC conferences and do all of the corresponding donkeywork – a kind of intelligentsia. One of the “leaders” in particular was summoned for questioning by the police after May 16th’s demo and was forced to moderate their rhetoric (warned not to call for non-sanctioned protests) or face prison. The same applies to another “leader”, who is still involved in a legal process concerning the “organisation of a non-sanctioned protest”. This has resulted in communication on social networks becoming encrypted – “I heard there was a protest on Saturday, I didn’t organise it, I’m just passing on the information”, like a game of cat and mouse.

Concerning the abuse of powers, no employee of “Compagnies républicaines de sécurité”, nor “Brigade anti-criminalité”, nor “mobile gendarmes” has been punished since the Yellow Vests movement began in November 2018. The

“Inspection générale de la Police nationale” (IGPN) has opened 240 (at the time of writing) cases, but there haven’t been any prosecutions. Not to mention the fact that Alexandre Benalla is still a free man. Below we see what the police think about any attempts to raise awareness about their crimes.

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In fact, it was only on May 21st that one CRS officer was fired for an “unjustified grenade launch” in 2016 (pre-Macron era) that blinded a union protestor.

It is for this reason that the police don’t wear any identification numbers or markings and cover their faces with balaclavas. If the IGPN calls a Yellow Vest complainant and asks for information about an incident, what will they say? No ID markings, face was covered, no “police” armband, etc. I.e., any case is doomed before it’s even opened. Here is an interesting post from May 27th concerning the Champs-Élysées circus two days prior:

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“Good evening everyone,

A friend street medic in Paris is in contact with the LDH to have framework and legal support during demonstrations.

She has to remain anonymous because of her profession, so I post this for her:

‘On Saturday, May 25th for ultimatum No. 3, we tried to reach Avenue Grande Armée. We were warned about the strategy of the police, namely to let the demonstrators pass through 1 or 2 checks before encircling and detaining them, confiscating their materials, and handing out fines for gathering at a forbidden place (or some other formulation that I do not exactly have in mind anymore).

Before going to the avenue, I contacted the legal representative of LDH to have legal advice on fines. Here is what I was told, so share to the greatest number of Yellow Vests or medics that are in this case:

– The fact of allowing access to the place of demonstration, even if it is prohibited, and to then stop everyone present and give them fines is called a misuse of procedure, the fines are questionable and do not hold water.

Be careful, you must have passed through a first barrage for this principle to hold true. Being allowed past means that you have been tacitly allowed to gather on the spot, and tacit consent has legal value.

The LDH is ready to help you to cancel the fines.

You can send your requests for help to the following email: juridique@ldh.france.org

Or to the hotline (note it is open only at certain times): 01 56 55 51 00 which will retransfer you to the hotline for legal assistance.

Courage to all’.”

7. Most of the Yellow Vests’ activist work takes place outside of demonstrations

As I mentioned in point No. 1, the Saturday processions are not the only thing that the Yellow Vests are doing in order to spread the word of the movement. One example: during the rest of the week (normally after work in the evenings) they occupy roundabouts and spaced next to main roads. Below is a photo of a small roundabout at Île d’Oléron:

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And here is what the Yellow Vests did at a bigger roundabout at Phalsbourg:

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And here is a makeshift village created at Vienne:

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And the government’s response? Either demolish installations on the roundabout (photo from April 2nd at Mercurol)…

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Set fire to the huts created by the Yellow Vests….

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A second example of the Yellow Vests activism work is the fight against speed cameras:

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A third example is the “péage” actions, where they promote the idea of free highways:

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A fourth example is the occupation of premises belonging to multinational companies (in the video below the target is Starbucks) that avoid to pay tax in France:

And a fifth example is the creation of the debate platform “Le Vrai Debate” to counter Macron’s electoral campaign re-run known as the “grand debate”, which he launched after the May 16th Yellow Vests offensive on Paris as a damage control PR campaign. The work that has gone into this website, for example, is massive and attacks the problem from another angle.

8. The Yellow Vests are apolitical… or not?

Along with the mantra of “we have no leaders”, the Yellow Vests affirm that they are not interested in party politics. But just how realistic is this pledge? For example, although some Yellow Vests abstained from voting in the EU election (which is the equivalent of a vote for Macron) in order to remain apolitical, other did not abstain, and some even voted for Le Pen. Immediately after the news broke that Le Pen was leading the exit polls, cyber quarrels began between the Yellow Vests, with an example being the Facebook post below from the morning after the EU election:

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“Big rant this morning!

I’m tired of seeing this big war on social networks.

At the foundations we fought for better living conditions, lower fuel price, lower taxes … the list is long …

All we get is DIVISION !!!!

Where are our true values!

We are all in the same shit.

So why the f*ck do we care about race, religion, apolitical or not, unionized or not!

The goal was to unite, not to suffer the moods of each other.

When will a true gathering and union come true?

Everyone has their own opinion.

I have the impression that everyone has forgotten why so many people were on the street on November 17th and that now it’s for personal reasons.

When will you put your anger aside and when will there be true fraternity ??????”

Here we can again refer to the quote of Samuel Hayat that was mentioned above:

I do not think that this movement upsets the political field, even though the will of the Yellow Vests to get out of the partisan field is strong. Although the disrepute of politicians will only increase, the latter seems determined to continue to act as if everything could continue as before.”

Indeed, the fact that the Yellow Vests are a minority of French people (even if the polls say that the majority of the country supports them, these armchair supporters do not physically do anything to assist the cause) automatically rules out any ideas of removing Macron via the ballot box. Hence why changing the system via grassroots work with RIC is more preferable and realistic. In response to the question “Can this ‘citizenism’ (rejection of left/right politics) really organise politics?”, Samuel Hayat says the following:

“This ‘citizenism’ is the object of constant construction and reconstruction within the movement itself, through a series of devices that build unity. This is not only about unified claims, but also about local and national leaders who constantly offer reminders about the norm of unity. It is this constant work that gives the movement its unprecedented longevity and makes it particularly resilient and inclusive. Refusing any demand that is not unanimous imposes to not talk about immigration, unemployment, wages, and the public service, which are divisive topics.

This is also why the movement prevents itself from asking the question of domination, because domination would reveal the existence of crystallised and partly invisible powers that go through the movement itself, be it between small bosses and the precarious, between private employees and public employees, between unemployed people and people who work, between men and women, between whites and non-whites … The survival of the movement is thus conditioned by the fact that all of this remains hushed up.

This is not an aporia of the movement, since this does not prevent it from continuing and taking an increasingly important place in the space of social movements. But if one places oneself in the tradition of the left, which gives a central place to the questioning of dominations, it is a movement that can not completely belong to it.”

I.e., it’s not that the movement is “apolitical”, but more that an assembly of thousands of people in an atomised society can only be possible through a temporary consensus based on a primitive instincts. The danger is, of course, that if the aim is achieved and the party politics system is removed along with their multi-national company sponsors, there could be a “Lord of the Flies” scenario, since deep societal contradictions were never collectively identified and resolved.

9. The coup in Ukraine paradoxically serves as an example

Unfortunately, the propaganda broadcasted by the US neocons and their EU lapdogs concerning their coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014 serves as an example of a “revolution” for many Yellow Vests. They see footage on YouTube or Netflix (the propaganda movie “Winter on Fire” is the main culprit) of molotov cocktails being launched at “Berkut” or of brainwashed Ukrainians putting pots on their heads, or of politicians being thrown into bins, and they think that it actually led to a revolution. They think that clashes with the police will automatically lead to the government being overthrown and that a paradise will thus arrive. In fact, one of the “leaders” even changed their Twitter profile banner to reflect this “fact”. Well, clashes with the police haven’t led to anything of that nature, which is proof in itself that the Yellow Vests movement is not externally financed like Maidan was ($6 billion from the State Department + some cookies and snipers). But most Yellow Vests do not understand either this or the concept of a “colour revolution”. This is simply down to ignorance and is a consequence of years of brainwashing. Now they don’t trust the mainstream media – the same agencies that sold “Maidan” as a “revolution” – and prefer RT and Sputnik. A painful paradox, indeed.

A vivid example: on March 30th I witnessed (at the 2:20 mark in this video) someone literally replicating a Nuland NGO media trick – holding a mirror in front of the police. How so?

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I know for a fact that he saw a Facebook post in a Yellow Vests group published just a few days prior showing the original stunt in Ukraine and recommending to copy it.

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Even though there was only one idiot who decided to follow the advice, it is still one too many. What’s most tragic here is that what’s happening now in France is the boomerang effect of the government’s foreign meddling, and so evidently the French people have to experience the consequences on their own skin in order to learn from it. Does this entail civil war? This is a topic for another day. But educational work needs to be done anyway. Hence why Sputnik France recently put Donbass in the spotlight and published a kind of “dummies guide” to non-existent “Russian aggression” in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Of course, this work has to be gradual and systematic, since Russian media must first gain the trust of the French people before it can put pressure on sensitive points.

10. The most shocking contrast

Whilst the scenes of protesters clashing with the police are shocking, the most striking “clash”, or at least to my eyes, is between the Yellow Vests and the bourgeoisie stumbling down the streets like consumerist zombies, plugged into a rose-tinted matrix where Stockholm syndrome enforces this field negro/house negro paradigm I mentioned earlier (see the photo below, I don’t know who took it but it’s case in point)

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On April 20th, whilst I was traveling to the other side of Paris, I saw and photographed a scene that epitomizes the problem. I have nothing more to add.

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I will reiterate – the 10 conclusions I have written above are not the only 10 conclusions that should be drawn from nearly 7 months of Yellow Vests protests. They are just important observations. A definitive list of conclusions can easily fill the pages of a book, but as I mentioned earlier – referring to history and concatenating events that follow a certain pattern saves a lot of time and is simply more efficient, taking into account the speed of information consumption today. And it goes without saying that my conclusions may not correspond to other people’s, although I’d like to think that such wealth disparity and social stratification aren’t as “non-existent” as the presstitute media likes to pretend they are.

If anyone has any questions about anything written in this article or about the Yellow Vests movement in general, please ask them in the comments below and I will answer them to the best of my ability in a future article.

Related

The Yellow Vest Salpêtrière Hospital hoax: I reported live from there as it happened

May 05, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The Yellow Vest Salpêtrière Hospital hoax: I reported live from there as it happened

The French government has been forced to shamefully admit that they made totally false accusations that May Day Yellow Vest anti-government protesters tried to break into the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital in order to “attack”, “assault” and “steal”. Countless mainstream media are just as covered in ignominy for having repeated these untrue claims.

I was right there when it happened, covering it for PressTV, so I witnessed exactly what transpired.

In fact, I even gave a live interview at the exact time of the incident, just after 4pm. I don’t have a copy of that for now, but I hope to get one soon: certainly, I can explain what happened and why.

Why it happened: A new rule permitting even worse police brutality against Yellow Vests

May 1st was the debut of a new policing tactic: cops can initiate violence against peaceful protesters.

It is just that objectively simple, openly discussed, and easy to explain:

Cops are now using the age-old method of “divide and conquer”… on peaceful protesters. On May 1st a line of riot cops repeatedly charged the demonstrators in order to sever them into two, more manageable sections. One section of the protest is forced to advance, while the other section is forced to wait behind.

Of course, police are not watching their elbows and politely saying, “Excuse me” – the only way to stop peaceful demonstrators from moving is to violently get in their way and then violently bar them from advancing one more step. That is “initiating violence”, and they didn’t used to do that with the regularity we saw on May 1.

The cops did this at the start of the demonstration at 2pm, and to achieve their goal of cutting the demo into two sides they gassed about 5-8,000 people. I was doing a live interview at that time as well (I don’t have a copy of that one, but I do have others from that day, read on for the link!). It was so violent and so shocking – tear gas forcing thousands of people to flee – that I had to talk (yell) for 20+ minutes live, giving myself a temporary headache. We almost had to turn and run, but we stood our ground: I take no credit, of course, but when cops advanced as far as journalists reporting live they finally relented and let the demonstration proceed, as they had set up an unprecedented, shockingly-narrow, cop-filled corridor tens of thousands of people had to slowly pass through. Happy International Workers’ Day!

Back to 4pm: the cops again cut the demonstration, and they did so right in front of the hospital. So, firstly, if anyone is at fault for putting the hospital in the line of fire it is the riot cops because they chose to re-initiate violence at that particular spot.

Why that spot? Because Boulevard de l’Hôpital was the final straightaway until the end of the protest – the roundabout Place d’Italie: the government’s new tactic also meant they wanted to allow the first group of protesters (the most hard core) to enter Place d’Italie all alone… so they could be gassed, attacked and cleared out before for the next section of protesters arrived. Gas, attack and clear out; gas, attack and clear out Place d’Italie – this happened three times (in my estimation, but I was only there for numbers 2 and 3). This is the result of the new, so called “more offensive” police tactics.

Why do that? Because the government did not want the protest – 40,000 strong – to finish together, in celebration. The government was threatened by this large gathering, so they simply did not allow it to happen.

This explains why when I finally got to Place d’Italie it was a bizarre, desolate, damaged ghost town. Construction barricades had been toppled and damaged, along with advertisements and bus stops, there was garbage, glass and tear gas canisters everywhere… yet no people. Just an empty Place d’Italie, surrounded by cops at all eight exits.

Allow me to say this: I have never seen more cops that day in Paris. This was a city under foreign occupation, truly.

Entire regions of the city were rendered inaccessible to citizens, with armored vehicles and enormous temporary, metal gates blocking off road after road after road. But the number of cops… staggering. There was a squadron of riot police every 200 meters along the demonstration route, which was limited to a tiny section; so small, in fact, that I started my day at Place d’Italie at 11 am, covering the first demo (ecological protesters, of course, who only want to make their stupid complaints and then leave – quite pleased with themselves – before the violence starts), only to return there at the end of the day. Yes, it was back and forth along the only, narrow, permitted path to celebrate International Workers’ Day in the “birthplace of human rights”. This is why there was not more violence that day – cops were everywhere.

But wait, it’s worse! I actually drove in from 130 kilometers outside Paris that day: there were rural gendarmes searching cars and people (without warrants, based only on suspicion) at every toll booth and gas station. They waved me through, each time, without searching me.

What went down at the hospital

So the cops cut the demo at 14h, the start, and then they did it at again at 16h. I was in the group forced to wait behind, stuck in front of the hospital, as the first group was getting their butts kicked at Place d’Italie while waiting for comrades who would never be allowed to join them. May 1st was a demonstration in stages, and only in certain places – certainly not “freedom of assembly”.

So to cut the demo into two means to separate friends from each other – that creates anger. The cops have no fear of provoking anger because they have tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, truncheons and the power to arrest against totally unarmed protesters… and that’s exactly what they did at 16h.

It was a rough 30 minutes. I was at the front lines and I’ve seen worse in France, but it was no picnic either.

Cops launched tear gas first, as always, to repel the protesters from the separation line they were undemocratically enforcing. Tear gas, then water cannons, and then hand-to-hand combat – it’s the same thing I’ve seen since 2010, but I assume this existed in France long before then: this is the culture here.

So, via tear gas, cops caused a third of the protesters to flee into a side street (Rue des Wallons), while another third fled further back on the Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux, while the final third was pushed against the side gates of the now-infamous Hôpitaux Universitaires Pitié Salpêtrière. This is where the cops made their mistake (although this is all mistakes in preserving citizen security): they tear-gassed protesters who had nowhere else to go. Some panicked protesters somehow got through the side gates and entered into the hospital grounds.

And it was “panicked protesters” – subsequent videos have proven that it was not “Black Bloc” nor even Yellow Vests who forced their way into the hospital. The only people who actually made it into the hospital were just two elderly men who said they had been “tear gassed all day”. The video has made the government and the mainstream media appear even more terrible and pathetic. Not much more needs to be said….

More interesting: Why even try to get into the hospital? It’s a stupid move, like running upstairs in a horror movie – you have nowhere to go; you are sure to be arrested and/or abused. But those protesters couldn’t think that far ahead, because they were frightened, gassed, hurt, simple everyday citizens and not Black Bloc, cops or that other group which straddles both those groups – journalists.

Of course, there were no TV reporters during this long melee. There were plenty of photographers and some cameramen, and surely some print reporters, but not any TV reporters. Maybe all these journalists were working for a company, or maybe they were working for independent Yellow Vest blogs – who can tell? However, as is often the case at the front lines, I was the only one with a logo and doing a live interview.

I take that back: a lady for Italy’s RAI was there during all this. She was doing her “piece to camera”, the little wrap-up for a TV report – not a live interview. Major kudos, though.

French media on the front line? Ha! Dream on!

I don’t know why – they could be. They could hire 3 security guards (instead of the usual 1 or 2), and then 3 ombudsman to explain to (very likely angry and confrontational) protesters, “We are here now! We are trying to do a good job for France! Don’t get violent with us, please!” Maybe that’s naïve of me, but totally hiding from the front line – hiding the reality of what’s going on at the front lines for everyday citizens, such as those trapped at Hospital Pitié Salpêtrière – only further ruins the reputation of French media within France. Don’t they feel an obligation to report on such an event properly… in their own damned country?!

And then they so quickly relay whatever the government wildly claims without any verification. Oh boy….

Please stop the tear gas – I’m live on TV

The hand-to-hand combat: Tougher protesters had wanted to… keep marching. That’s all. But riot police violence prevented them and attacked them – so they fought back.

Such “resistance” is really quite, quite stupid, I think – I mean, both sides keep the kid gloves on. And thank God, because it’s not even close to a fair fight: every square inch of the bodies of cops are protected with 8,000 euros worth of equipment; cops have been searching for weapons from a 130 kilometer-wide radius around Paris, so nothing can even the playing field; protesters have none of the cops tactical knowledge, organization or discipline. Hand-to-hand means a cat and mouse game and very quick skirmishes.

I recall that, amid the melee, there was a teenager dressed in black tossing a rock up and down, like a gangster flipping a quarter on a street corner.

Stupid….

A plainclothes cop – dressed as if he was a fellow Black Bloc member – dropped his phony act: he grabbed the kid and threw him to the ground with 100% of his force. Hey, the kid was holding a rock like a weapon and looking like he was about to use it – the kid was dead to rights, and by showing off he gave the cops time to think and react. As they dragged him away I thought: Poor kid – he’s going to prison for a year or so. Some might be surprised that a cop would – gasp! – dress up as a Black Bloc member: Why that never happens! Yeah, sure….

Anyway, about a minute later – amazingly – the kid actually breaks free! He’s running away!

But a cop trips him up and the first, arresting officer hits the kid on the ground on his thigh with his telescopic truncheon as hard as anything you can imagine. Punches sound nothing like they do in movies, of course, but the sound of this hit was enormous. If the cop had hit the kid’s knee it would have been shattered – thankfully, the human femur is stronger than concrete. The kid surely has a nasty, nasty mark and a limp today.

Good ending: The kid still jumped the short garden fence on the west side of the Boulevard and got away. LOL… kids.

During this whole time I am dodging all this and waiting to go live on (smartphone) camera. My cameraman is dodging too. PressTV, which doesn’t seem to understand that I am avoiding the wild crowd along the hospital gate, the arrests and beatings across from the gate, and the cops further up the boulevard who can attack, gas or water cannon us at any moment, keeps pushing us back because they want a “stable shot”. LOL, yeah right. Amid this fluid situation?! Where I was just “stable” a rock just landed!

They want me to stand there – stock still – amid this violence, LOL. Just put me on air, already!

But PressTV is still waiting – I move to the side of hospital gate. Cops gas there again. I’m not going in the hospital grounds, but some do. Various ministers, reporters and know-nothings at home will soon be calling them bad little boys and girls… until the truth comes out.

One has to realize that during a bad gassing there is only one thought: get away from the gas. Certainly, LOL, you cannot do a single other thing until you complete that task.

Then there is – maybe – a second thought: if cops charge and attack now, I am totally helpless and done for.

That’s why ya gotta know these things, and avoid being right where the gassings land; ya gotta think a step or two ahead; ya gotta not celebrate your survival, as if it was some huge victory, because more gas (or worse) is coming. It takes time to learn this stuff – a couple dozen people haven’t had good luck and lost an eye, while over 600 have been seriously injured. Reminder: the weekly anti-Yellow Vest violence is nearing a half-year now! A half-year!!!

Anyway, I get away from the re-gassed hospital gate, and PressTV finally puts me on the air. I’m thrilled, because I want to get this live interview over with. So, I’m between the line of cops higher up Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux, and across from the hospital (Rue des Wallons) where the cat-and-mouse, will-they-or-won’t they is taking place, and I’m doing my live blah blah.

Blah blah is done, and all is well. I had been gassed several times in 30 minutes – medics kindly spraying my face with cooling solvent at one point – but I could tell the fight was ending, as it can’t go on forever. The cops finally get the order to pull back and stop antagonizing and attacking this section of the protest.

I didn’t know this at the time, but they had gotten these orders only because they had sufficiently gassed, attacked and cleared out the first protest section at Place d’Italie.

The protesters are thrilled – they have “won”… by not losing an eye or being arrested. Little victories for the oppressed masses. Cops are slowly pulling back, and the protesters all congregate in front of a group riot cops and start singing a chant. I forget what – On est la (We are here), probably.

Stupid. (But I did join in for a short minute.)

They’re just going to get gassed again. I tell my cameraman that this is not the place to be – indeed, it’s all about knowing where’s the place to NOT be! The crowd is singing louder, and it reaches a point where it’s either dance or fight, and the French don’t dance even though they are a Latin culture. Therefore, I know that someone in the crowd is going to do something to offend or antagonize the cops – or the cops will just get annoyed at the crowd’s sense of triumph – and gas will arrive shortly. Everyone is celebrating, but we are moving… and more gas arrived where we had just been. I had gotten my fair share of abuse by then.

Thanks to my press card the cops let us through and we enter Place d’Italie early.

Hey, I am not obligated to document and witness every tear gassing! LOL, this is France – that’s impossible. And there are other journalists, both good ones and bad ones.

This was the exact time when a cop was filmed throwing a rock at protesters, which is generating some news. Indeed, as we had passed the police line I had noticed that up and down Boulevard de l’Hôpitaux protesters had pried off chunks of road asphalt – they are being attacked and have no weapons, let’s recall. Nothing will happen to that cop, who should be fired immediately. It is ABSOLUTELY the primary part of the job description of a “riot cop” to take punches and not give them… but that’s only in a country which is honest, which enforces law and order, which doesn’t sic the cops on the protesters, etc.

Place d’Italie is totally empty, except for a thousand or so cops, and it’s a wreck. Me and my cameraman speculate on the possibility of an alien abduction of the first protest group.

The protest section we were with starts to filter in: we’re all gassed immediately.

That pushes us to one side of the roundabout, and that allows cops to push them all out. Ah, so there probably wasn’t an alien abduction? Coulda been nice, maybe….

We stay, because we have an interview at 18h.

So it’s 18h and here I am – getting gassed live on camera again (6:50 mark). The wind had shifted and it was on us quickly… but I have a tolerance to tear gas after all these years.

PressTV takes me off camera… that’s so annoying. What am I getting gassed for, then? We want to show the sufferings of the people – so show it! If we aren’t going to show it, then I can just stay in back with all the other journalists!!!

But ya gotta be at the front – at least sometimes. Protesters gotta see professional journalists are there to (somewhat) protect them, and cops gotta see that professional journalists are there to document what they do.

It’s a real shame more reporters aren’t doing live reports from the front lines, because cops know they can’t do anything to anyone on live TV – they surely are forced to rein in their violent tactics. It’s a real shame mainstream reporters (and I include PressTV with them, in a rare instance) aren’t going to the front line. Again, I am no courageous guy, I just feel that the Yellow Vests are nothing new: France’s Yellow Vests: It’s just 1 protest…which has lasted 8 years, was the first article I wrote on the Yellow Vests, and it stresses that this violence against peaceful protesters is absolutely, positively nothing new.

I’ve seen these “battles” before many, many times – and I think I know how to safely handle it. Knock wood for luck, but experience gives everyone – a reporter, a Black Bloc member, a cop – a sixth sense, and a genuine ability to predict what comes next because it is all rather formulaic (although not on May 1). I know I am not courageous, because I would never put my cameraman at risk; more importantly, I would never put his expensive camera at risk, and that shows you how well-paid we are when the camera is the utmost priority! No joke….

But French TV reporters weren’t at the front lines with the rail workers, with anti-State of Emergency protesters, with the “you can’t ban pro-Palestinian marches” protesters, and on and on and on in France since 2010.

That was, I assume, the last gassing of the day because right when I am gassed live you can see that unions and their fancy floats are starting to arrive – no more poor Yellow Vests.

Unions, of course, have signed off on every major austerity measure since 2010, and are incredibly easy to “divide and conquer” with targeted concessions… so cops surely just wanted to give them a nice Place d’Italie to stand around, talk loud and say nuthin’. This is why many Yellow Vests don’t want to march with unions, even on May Day.

At that point I left to go and do our report for that day.

All in all – not a bad day

I was expecting May Day to be bad – I was honestly concerned, as I do have things to live for besides these articles, you know – and it was pretty bad.

But it was only bad at the start and the finish – the massive, massive, massive police presence all along the route made any sort of “permanent shenanigans” impossible. That filtering corridor after the first protest-separating was appalling. May Day 2019 in France was like holding a march during a North Korean military parade, minus the great choreographed dances and true socialism.

It was also bad because it is much safer when the cops are playing defense, as they are supposed to always be doing, but on May Day they were playing offense. They have all the weapons, all the tactics, all the legal ability to whatever they want… and then a reporter – who invariably finds his or herself on both sides of the front line – has to worry about the cops, and also about rocks being thrown in his direction (at the cops). Whereas on a day like March 16, the last time the Champs- Élysées was a scene of civil disobedience, things are perfectly safe because everyone knows who the Yellow Vests are targeting and why. Cops… they can do whatever they want, and whenever they want – they respect nothing.

French reporters need to be at the front lines… but they aren’t. I’m sure editors tell them not to, and that they are told that by their publishers. But that’s why we got nonsense reporting which initially accused May Day protesters of breaking into a hospital to… do what? Burn, pillage and behead? Yeah, right….

Frankly, this new tactic of “initiate violence in order to divide and conquer peaceful protesters” is something which I can’t see the Yellow Vests being able to combat… but that’s the subject of a future article.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

Source

France’s Yellow Vests: Proving cops are indeed part of the 1%

March 04, 2019

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

The demonstration for “Acte 16”, on March 2nd, was designed as a sight-seeing tour which passed by bastions of rich, traitorous criminals (the OECD, a school of luxury marketing, etc.) and so it concluded at a small roundabout in a ritzy area, Denfert-Rochereau.

As protesters amassed and cops loaded up, and with time in between my on-air interviews for PressTV, I headed for a florist shop. I needed some poles to train my sagging office plant, George W. Bouchra, named after a former boss who departed ignominiously (she was never employed by PressTV nor my boss – it’s a shared office).

As I began talking to the female shopkeeper, who seemed to be deciding whether or not to lock up and flee, a member of France’s riot police barged in and interrupted our conversation. He was thirsty. I can see why – French riot cops wear more armour than an American football player, and carry more attacking equipment than Batman. With his huge size thus rendered even huger, he quite intimidated the petite young florist.

The florist, of course, expected to pass her day among delicate flowers. She probably had no idea the Yellow Vest demonstration was designed to combust literally at her doorstep.

My hand to God, he asked her for bottled water not once, but 6 to 9 times. Was he convinced that florists also sell bottled water? More likely is: because he was a cop he knew that all he had to do was apply pressure to this lady/citizen, and she would hand over her own bottled water. Of course, because he was a French cop, he also knew that there would be zero repercussions if what he was doing was not forthright.

The intimidated young lady kept insisting she had no bottled water to give, and the cop finally gave up. When she turned to back to me I asked, “And do you have anything for me to eat?”

With the same look of fear still in her eyes, she answered quite earnestly, “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.” She honestly believed me, poor lady! It was only after I smiled and pressed her again, in the manner of the cop, that she finally relaxed back to her former self. She gave me the plant poles for free.

What this story relates is just how elitist Western cops are in 2019. Truly, only 1% of society feels they can act so above-the-law and so humiliatingly disrespectful to others.

“The 1%” can be only economic, but not necessarily. The slogan of the US Occupy Movement was, “We are the 99%.” Whether we say that, “Cops are part of the 1%”, or, “Cops aren’t part of the 99%”, the effect is the same – and it’s time to start saying it openly.

Everybody, in every Western country, hates the police

Here’s something never reported in any Mainstream Media: at any French demonstration where riot cops are deployed one will hear the chant, “Everybody hates the cops” (Tout… le monde… déteste la police!).

Now because the Yellow Vests are totally composed of White Power, anti-Semitic fascists such a chant would never be heard, right? The Yellow Vests – because they are a class-ignorant, intolerant, Islamophobia-focused movement calling for Joan of Arc’s exhumed skeleton to replace Emmanuel Macron as president – obviously love the cops. That’s also why leftist-rightish French intellectuals like Alain Soral are convinced that the cops are secretly wearing Yellow Vests under their blue uniforms, and are breathlessly waiting for the moment when France’s cops do what is never, ever done in any political revolution – join the protesters. Cops never switch sides – they have too much to lose.

Oh wait – the Yellow Vests were chanting it as well! The reason for that is, well, everybody hates the cops in France. They hate them with same force as they hate the 1% because cops are part of the 1%.

Let’s look at history: the rude demands for provisions and quarter (if not bottled water) was always made by soldiers and cops in ancient times. The banning of quartering soldiers – i.e., theft and parasitism – is the 3rd amendment in the US Bill of Rights for good reason. From the point of view of citizens: the idea that the Praetorian Guard, or anyone with a sword and a license to stab, was not part of the 1% could only be made by an absurd dogmatist.

Let’s look at 2019: go to any blue-collar community in the US and talk to women – they view cops and firemen as the biggest catches. Why? Because they have everything a conservative woman could want: social status, guaranteed jobs, early retirement and great pensions.

Social status: For those who have not lived in a small town – and I have lived in multiple and reported from them, as well – cops absolutely are social stars. Everybody knows who they are and the power they have; everybody kisses up to them, because they fear them and their power.

Guaranteed jobs: Ah, but our boys in blue are such heroes for working such dangerous jobs, right? Wrong. It’s not even in the top 10 of most dangerous professions – being a baseball umpire is almost as deadly. And check that list of the top 25 – cops are among the highest-paid on the list (median salary: $59,680).

It is almost unheard of for French policemen to go to jail, and certainly not if they commit a crime against a Muslim or Black person. In French law the testimony of a cop is always valid and cannot be questioned, only disproved via evidence. This is why so many innocent protesters are going to prison – because the cops say so.

Early retirement and great pensions: Indeed, the only time I have seen a French protest lead to immediate capitulation by the government is when cops marched – reforms were promised that very day. Politicians know how vital Praetorian Guards are. The usual method for cop pensions in the US is retirement after just 20 years with half your pay… that’s not just spectacular for those in small towns – who wouldn’t want that?

Add all these things up: Cops are not part of the 99%.

Yellow Vests throwing excrement on cops via ‘poo bombs’ – it’s the ultimate form of rejection

As someone who sides with non-dog cultures, I find it tremendously degrading for a person to fill a plastic bag (or a “projectile”) with excrement, but getting hit by it – wow. That’s disrespect on an almost unthinkable level. (I assume it was dog excrement, LOL!)

The policemen were deeply humiliated,” reads the report. Well, turnabout is fair play, no? That’s what cops do to regular citizens day in and day out; that’s what the cop did to the florist.

Yellow Vests are doing what their American cousins in New Orleans did during the US Civil War – they are dumping their chamber pots on the heads of an army they have no connection with and whom they despise.

Westerners should, but do not, make a clear distinction between police and the army. Soldiers deserve infinitely more respect than cops, who in capitalist-imperialist societies are drawn from the most reactionary parts of the population. Cops in the West are not at all like the Revolutionary Guards in Cuba or Iran – Western cops violently guard against any progressive revolution, and their citizens all know that but can do nothing about it.

Nor can they stop the appalling deification of police in Western societies since 9/11. Despite all the bullets in the backs of minorities, all the secret torture sites and all the smartphone videos of shootings, cops are culturally, legally and fiscally untouchable because they ARE part of the 1%. The Western Mainstream Media defies cops, and Western mainstream politicians protect their salaries and pensions while cutting those of other public servants, because they are all in it together against the 99%.

Westerners know that I could go on and on with examples of glorification of cops which have become so extreme as to become disgustingly servile. The treatment of cops in capitalist-imperialist societies is, just like most Western problems, so ingrained that it can only be labelled as “total socio-political dysfunction”, and could only be remedied by something like a Chinese or Iranian Cultural Revolution. And that is what the Yellow Vests are essentially calling for.

Until that occurs, I will continue to report honestly: mass arrests, mass trials and mass jailings are an everyday part of French life now.

More blunt language, which is rarely heard in the Mainstream Media: Every Saturday the numbers of people hurtand arrested simply for protesting governmental policies rises by the scores or the hundreds.

Numbers: 8,000+ arrested, 500 major injuries, 2,000+ imprisoned (as of Feb. 14), 1,500+ awaiting trials (Feb. 14), 12 deaths, 20+ blindings, 6 hands lost, 10,000+ rubber bullets fired. If Venezuela reaches 1% of these figures the UN will authorise military intervention.

Rather than make concessions, change policy, or reflect the popular will, the government is using legal repression on top of physical repression to scare people from joining the Yellow Vests – every day newspapers big and small have stories of sentenced Yellow Vesters.

What’s sad is that the majority of those arrested are first-time protesters – they simply didn’t know how to deal with cops, how to avoid cops, and how to demand their rights from bullying cops. It’s not the longtime activists who are in prison, but truly the most innocent and the most desperate. Normally in France a sentence of less than 2 years leads to no prison time – a “suspended sentence” – but not for Yellow Vesters.

France is not a modern democratic nation but a “rubber bullet republic” led by a “liberal strongman”; it’s not new – Yellow Vests are experiencing what Muslims did during the 2-year State of Emergency.

I have only barely discussed the appalling violence, arrests, mass trails and and mass imprisonment of France’s Yellow Vests – these are inflicted by the very cops who Western media repeatedly insist are the greatest heroes of the nation. But only a reactionary believes that – everyone hates the police; only a reactionary hates the Yellow Vests.

The media is to blame: rubber bullets are euphemistically called “flash balls”. They are fired from “defense ball launchers”, which automatically makes protesters the aggressors. Injuries to cops are treated as being equivalent to the injuries of protesters, even though I have never read of a blinded cop, a cop in a coma, a cop killed, 200+ cops with serious head injuries – surely the media would have relayed such stories on a loop. Of course, the protesters are rampaging berserkers, who commit violence with no rhyme or reason, with demands “so varied” that it’s not even worth examining them, and who are not the victims of 8 years of austerity but the “losers” of neoliberal globalisation who lost in a 100% fair fight. Every poll is dissected in a way to show that the Yellow Vests are actually dwindling in popularity, and not that they actually (still) have unprecedented popularity for a protest movement in France. Every defense of the Yellow Vests must begin with a condemnation of “their” violence. Etc.

Act 16 was the tamest one yet… in Paris, that is. Rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas, mass arrests were still used in the smaller cities more accessible to rural inhabitants. The florist had no cause for alarm that day – except from the riot police.

An article like this will be gleefully put in front of me by border cops the next time I fly into the United States, perhaps. Such an article is not just career suicide for a Mainstream journalist, but it would never get past any editor. However, it’s not like Western cops ever needed justification for their acts of intimidation, humiliation and violence. And maybe the 1% will get me before then – either via a rich person’s decree or their heavily-armed proxies.

This was an article about the horrific police and judicial violence against the Yellow Vests, but it barely touched on it – France’s problems run much deeper than just the past 3+ months.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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