'Red scarves' launch counter-protest against 'yellow vest' violence in France

Minnie Murray
January 28, 2019

With slogans like "Enough!" and "End the violence", the Red Scarves, the Blue Vests and the "STOP, that's enough now" movements first surfaced at the end of a year ago to counter the Yellow Vest protests that had upended weekend traffic and resulted in the worst rioting in Paris in decades, costing taxpayers millions of euros.

Macron has sapped some support for the movement by taking an active role in recent days in a national debate in towns across France, launched to address the protesters' concerns.

The bearded Rodrigues, who has become a well-known figure in the "yellow vest" movement with 50,000 followers on Facebook, was live-streaming the protest on the website when he was hit.

The devices - which are not used in most European countries - have been blamed for dozens of serious injuries at "yellow vest" protests, leading to calls for them to be banned.

Police armed with guns firing non-lethal rubber balls - which have seriously injured several - are equipped with body cameras Saturday for the first time, in an experiment to record use of the weapons, providing context and eventual evidence if needed.

In the latest round of demonstrations on Saturday, Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in Paris and other French cities.

"Everything happened very quickly".

'Originally, I arrived on the Place de la Bastille to try to make sure that the Yellow Vests go away, that they can leave the Bastille following attacks by Black Bloc anarchists against the police.

France's yellow vest movement kept up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron with mainly peaceful marches and scattered skirmishes Saturday, its 11th straight weekend action despite internal divisions and growing worries about protest violence.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon to push back protesters at Place de la Bastille in Paris, one of the regular protest areas, as some demonstrators threw stones from a building site.

Jerome Rodrigues, a self-described pacifist, was injured in his right eye by a projectile hurled towards him, allegedly by police.

Dubbed the "red scarf" movement, the centrist initiative is the brainchild of an engineer from Toulouse who was horrified by the violence seen among more extremist "yellow vest" demonstrators.

In an effort to quell the unrest, Macron has offered concessions and launched a series of public debates to allow people to voice their frustrations.

"Yes to democracy, no to revolution", the protesters chanted, some carrying French and European Union flags.

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