Yellow Vests movement battles repression in France

first_imgFor the 14th consecutive Saturday, tens of thousands of Yellow Vests marched throughout France on Feb. 16. The cops gave the number of marchers as 41,500, while the Yellow Vest movement claimed the figure was 104,070.While the major focus of media attention was on Paris, there were also significant marches in Rouen, Lyons and Bordeaux, where the main slogan was “Death to the rich.” The cops broke up the march in Bordeaux with water cannons and tear gas grenades. (Le Monde, Feb. 16)The French government, under highly unpopular President Emmanuel Macron — whose approval index has dipped as low as 24 percent — has attacked the Yellow Vests from three directions: physical, legal and political.Over 2,000 people have been seriously injured by French cops during Yellow Vest protests, most of them by “flash balls,” hard rubber projectiles copiously fired by the cops, or by GLI-F4 grenades, which combine a loud bang (165 decibels), tear gas and a hard blast. From pictures on Google and Flickr, most of the injuries have been to eyes and limbs.The intensity of feeling by Yellow Vest protesters is such that even after they have been severely injured, they keep on protesting.Legal and political reprisalsIn legal reprisals, Éric Drouet, a truck driver and prominent member of the Yellow Vests, was recently convicted of organizing two demonstrations in January without “prior notification.” Under the state of emergency in force in France because of the threat of “terrorist attacks,” this charge carries major penalties. Drouet has thus far received only a month in prison, perhaps because of the ferocity of the protests. He has another trial set for June. (Le Huffington Post, Feb. 17)Christophe Dettinger, an ex-champion boxer, was arrested when he kicked a cop during a demonstration in January and then punched another one, over his shield and through his face mask, down and out. Dettinger was sentenced to a year of prison, though he will be able to work during the day and be locked up at night.  Government political pressure has come down on the Yellow Vests. Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner has regularly denounced the movement in Parliament. On Feb. 14 he announced he was “watching” Christophe Chalençon, a Yellow Vest member, on the far-fetched charge that he was planning a coup and organizing a paramilitary band.On Feb. 16, a well-known right-wing member of the French Academy, Alain Finkielkraut, got out of a Paris cab when it was stopped by the Yellow Vest march. Protesters recognized him and began calling him a “dirty Zionist.”  Some cops who escorted him out of the crowd said they heard an anti-Semitic epithet, which, if uttered in a public place in France “with the intent to injure or defame someone,” carries a penalty of 12 years in prison and a 45,000 euro fine. However, Finkielkraut did not file a complaint. Nevertheless, the whole bourgeois political establishment piled on, treating the incident as being essentially anti-Semitic. Those feigning outrage included Emmanuel Macron, his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Marine Le Pen, head of the Front National — whose roots are anti-Semitic and neo-Fascist — and every other right-wing party. It was a clear case of the French establishment working as hard as they could to take down the Yellow Vests.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

FLOW’s Miller urges athletes to grasp opportunities at Relays

first_img FLOW Foundation has been donating funds to schools that make requests for help for more than 20 years, and Miller said that makes the event one of the highlights of the foundation’s yearly activities. “It’s one of the highlights of our year’s activities, one which we look forward to with a great amount of anticipation because of what it is doing. It is helping youngsters to showcase their talent, which also has the potential to showcase their talent to the world,” he said. Miller also encouraged the youngsters who compete at Penns to pay equal, if not more, attention to their academics even if they are excelling in track and field. “They are goodwill ambassadors for Jamaica and they can erase a lot of the negative perceptions out there with regard to Jamaica,” he said. In addition to the Penn Relays fund, FLOW Foundation also supports free Internet access to all primary schools across Jamaica that request free Internet as long as the company has the facilities in the area. The association also donates funds from its 6K road race to assist with the paediatric cancer fund in tandem with the Bustamante Children’s Hospital and provides scholarships for a final-year student of engineering studying at a local tertiary institution. FLOW Foundation executive chairman Errol K. Miller says his foundation looks forward each year to being part of something that gives young Jamaican student athletes the opportunity to display their skills on a stage such as the annual Penn Relays. FLOW Foundation on Tuesday presented high schools and tertiary institutions that will participate in this year’s event at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field in Philadelphia with sponsorship cheques totalling more than $4 million to help offset expenses to attend the track and field meeting. “Penn Relays would be attended by all kinds of scouts and coaches. It opens up the athletes to visitors in terms of athletics, but if there are people who are also doing well in academics, it also opens that door, too, in terms of scholarships to tertiary institutions abroad,” Miller told The Gleaner in an interview following the presentation at FLOW’s Carlton Crescent headquarters. LONG-TIME SUPPORTERlast_img read more