French yellow vest protesters march in support of injured 73-year-old activist

French yellow vest protesters march in support of injured 73-year-old activist

Genevieve Legay suffered a head injury in Nice last weekend.

French yellow vest protesters (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French yellow vest protesters (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Yellow vest protesters are rallying in France to support an activist injured in a confrontation with police and show they remain mobilised against the government’s economic policies.

The demonstrators remain undeterred by protest bans or repeated injuries during 20 weeks of demonstrations, and are marching again in Paris, Bordeaux, and other cities to keep pressing President Emmanuel Macron to do more to help the working classes, redesign French politics — or step down.

They are also showing solidarity with Genevieve Legay, a 73-year-old anti-globalisation activist who suffered a head injury in the southern city of Nice last weekend. The chief prosecutor in Nice said a police officer pushed her down.

Genevieve Legay was left unconscious (Claude Paris/AP)

“We are all Genevieve!” read an online appeal for Saturday’s protests.

In Paris, thousands of yellow vests started marching from the Gare de l’Est, in the north of the city centre. They were heading south to weave through the Left Bank and past the Eiffel Tower.

The French capital was placed under high security. Protests were banned around the Champs-Elysees, scene of recent rioting.

Emmanuel Macron (Yoan Valat/AP)

Audrey Bayart, who came from northern France for the protest, said Ms Legay’s case shows the government’s contempt towards protesters, especially after Mr Macron told a newspaper the elderly woman should have had the “wisdom” not to join the Nice protest.

“After a while, you have to respect people and not tell them ‘you are fragile and you stay at home’. Everybody has things to say, why are we trying to shut them up? That is not democracy,” she said.

The movement has appeared to lose support in recent weeks, drawing significantly smaller crowds than at its beginning in November, when hundreds of thousands of people mobilised across France, initially to oppose fuel tax hikes, before expanding into a broader rejection of Mr Macron’s economic policies.

The government is expected to announce next month a new batch of measures as a result of a “great debate” launched by Mr Macron so that ordinary French people can express their views on the country’s economic and democratic issues.


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