Yellow Vest women against violence
The Yellow Vest women take the front scene on the streets this new year 2019. After the recent violences in Paris and elsewhere, women marches are organised to put forward a pacific image and to get back to the essential issues of the movement. Although the whole walk was calm and pacific last Saturday in Montpellier, the day still ends with teargas and running people.
The march begins at 2pm and a crowd of about 900 people moves from the city hall, along the river towards the city centre, singing and chatting, shouting now and then “Macron t’es foutu, les femmes sont dans la rue !” (Macron you are done, the women are in the streets.)
Even though it is a Yellow Vest women march, men are not excluded. Christelle* who works for the city insists that everyone can join. There is a security belt, the women walk at the front, the men behind. She says : “We are here so there will be no rioters and the march occurs peacefully.”
— LeNouveauMontpellier (@LeNouveauMtp) 12 janvier 2019
Two groups oppose
No police is to be seen until the arrival at the Prefecture. From 800 people the crowd grew to 1,500 and tension rises on the small square facing the CRS. A small group seems to have come specially for action. In contrary to the Yellow Vests, they are ready with mouth masks and eye protection.
The violent people are a minority which is put forward to undermine the movement.
One man climbs up the gate of the administrative building and shakes it while shouting. Others applaud and join in. Four women and two men interfere and put themselves between the angry few and the gate. Among them Pauline*, a schoolteacher.
“The violent people are a minority which is put forward to undermine the yellow vest movement. It is a governmental propaganda which the media and the government make themselves a joy to display, particularly on TV,” she claims. “I refuse to give the media material to put alike yellow vests with radicals.” She asks how one can speak of a violent movement when it concerns 15 people among thousands and does not understand why only them are shown.
For her, it is a governmental strategy to hinder support from the population. “It is important for us to have the population’s support. I interfered so the movement will not be discredited.”
Betty*, 23, intermittent worker in the show business, is not against violence : “As long as there is no violence nothing happens.” She makes clear that she does not mean physical violence but strategic violence, like blocking commercial sites.
We don’t go to disco anymore but to the ‘Com’ (Place de la Comédie).
At 5:30pm the demonstration is officially over. Numerous Yellow Vests left, but it is now that a group of young boys builds a barricade in a side-street, collecting wood-panels and broken bricks. A girl jokes among the watching crowd : “We don’t go to disco anymore but to the ‘Com’ (Place de la Comédie).” Teargas bombs start flying and people running. The old city centre is under smoke until the evening and the Street-Medics who followed the movement are busy. Another success for those who hoped for sensational pictures.
Yellow vest women’s opinions and solutions
Nevertheless, the Yellow Vest walk was an occasion for voices to be heard, especially those of women.
When the women are in the streets it means danger; we got to a certain emergency.
Annick and Marylen*, both retired, explain that mostly women have precarious jobs like home-aid, childcare or housemaid. Often they have to drive from one person to another, which is a terrible situation, even more on the countryside.
“The women are very present in the yellow vest movement since the beginning, on November 17th,” says Marylen, “When the women are in the streets it means danger; we got to a certain emergency.”
Beside the critics on the government, solutions are offered on what to change.
“We see that in the liberal system not everything is good. There is a lot of precariousness, so we came to the RIC: referendum for citizen initiative,” says Charlotte Klepec, 34, mother of one, who finished her studies in business management. It is a way for citizens to participate more actively in a politic they do not believe in any-more. “We need a horizontal system not a pyramidal one.”
Two years ago Charlotte wanted to leave France. She says that many young people want to leave today, because the situation is difficult, one “relocates”, like building up a business in Morocco. “I am half Moroccan. Things are moving economically there too, so why not… But then, on the other hand, you let decay.” She is happy to see that in France people are loud-mouthed and rise up for change.
*Several persons in the article preferred not to give price their family name, to avoid any risks related to the participation in the Yellow Vest movement.