This 2 January 2019 video is called Yellow Vests spokesperson arrested in Paris as protesters chant ‘dictatorship’.
By Ben Cowles:
Thursday, January 3, 2019
French riot cops arrest prominent yellow jackets member
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left-wing France Insoumise, branded Eric Drouet’s arrest as ‘an abuse of power’
Eric Drouet was detained while en route to a candlelit vigil along the Champs-Elysees paying tribute to those wounded during the protests, which started almost two month ago.
Footage of last night’s arrest posted online shows riot police leading Mr Drouet through a throng of officers lined up between him and his supporters.
Above the sounds of police sirens, his supporters can be heard shouting: “Dictatorship” as he is manhandled into the back of a patrol car.
Former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who leads the left-wing France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, branded the arrest “an abuse of power.”
Messages posted on Mr Mélenchon’s official Twitter page, which he does not write in person, called for an end to the persecution of the protesters.
“Enough violence, convictions and arrests against [the gilets jaunes],” one message reads.
“Release Eric Drouet. Leave the voices of the people alone.”
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire defended the arrest, saying: “It’s called respecting the rule of law.
“It’s normal that when you break the laws of the republic, you face the consequences.”
Mr Drouet, who works as a lorry driver, has become something of a spokesman for the decentralised, anti-government yellow jackets movement both online and on television.
He has been credited with suggesting that lorry drivers angry at French President Emmanuel Macron’s fuel-price levy should block roads to attract the government’s attention.
Mr Drouet also faces trial in June for a previous arrest in which he was charged with “carrying a prohibited category D weapon.”
He says the December 22 arrest was politically motivated and his lawyer maintains that the “weapon” police accuse him of carrying was a piece of wood in his bag.
Benjamin Cauchy, another figurehead of the protest movement, said the government was pouring oil on the fire.
“Unfortunately, I have the impression that the government wants to radicalise the movement. They have just put a coin in the jukebox and the song ‘yellow jackets’ will continue to play, that’s for sure.”
By Anthony Torres in France:
French police arrest “yellow vest” spokesman Eric Drouet
4 January 2019
Wednesday night, as he went to Paris’s Concord Square to light candles to commemorate “yellow vest” protesters who have died during the movement, police arrested Eric Drouet. The pretext for this arrest, which tramples underfoot the constitutionally protected right to protest, was that this gathering had not been declared previously at the police prefecture. Drouet had called for a gathering on Concord Square in a Facebook video.
Surrounded by sympathizers, Drouet was first trapped and then grabbed by the police and finally carted off amid cries of “Shame!”, “Dictatorship!” and “Bastards!” from the crowd. He was placed in preventive detention, while other protesters were arrested for identity checks.
Drouet’s lawyer Khéops Lara denounced “a completely unjustified and arbitrary arrest,” which leaves Drouet facing up to six months in jail and a €7,500 fine. Lara explained: “His ‘crime’ was to place candles (…) on Concord Square in Paris to commemorate the fallen ‘yellow vests’ who died from various causes during protests and blockades of highway intersections. Then he wanted to come together with a few friends and loved ones in a private area, a restaurant, to discuss and share viewpoints.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office alleges that Drouet organized “a demonstration without prior notification.” Junior Minister Olivier Dussopt told BFMTV: “When you don’t play by the rules, it’s normal to pay the price.”
These accusations are absurd and point to the malignant growth of the police state in France. Drouet was not organizing a mass demonstration, which are often declared in police prefectures, but a meeting of a few individuals—which the state now is asserting it can ban.
Lara demanded an end to Drouet’s preventive detention, which the prosecutor’s office refused, and added: “With the propaganda campaign against Eric Drouet vomited up by the police, the media and the politicians, the men and women of France’s lower classes are being insulted.”
The ruling class is indeed launching a signal: it intends to persecute all acts of genuine political opposition, even those protected by law, with its police machine. Faced with rising social anger among workers in France and internationally … the ruling class is reacting with repression. Beyond hordes of riot police and armored vehicles, it is using the pseudo-judicial lynching of prominent opposition figures.
Drouet has served as a spokesman for sections of the “yellow vest” movement opposed to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to strangle the movement with sterile offers of talks. With Priscilla Ludosky, Drouet met Ecology Minister François de Rugy on November 28 to represent the “yellow vests” in talks with the government. Drouet brought down on him the hatred of the government and the media by turning down de Rugy’s offer, saying it did not satisfy the demands of the “yellow vests.”
Since then, Drouet has been the target of escalating police repression that is aimed ultimately at crushing and sidelining all members of the movement who emerge as obstacles to the state’s attempts to break up and demoralize the protests with offers of fruitless talks.
Drouet’s latest arrest provoked broad anger among the “yellow vests.” Already they have organized crowd-funding campaigns to finance Drouet’s legal expenses in the various cases concocted against him by the security forces.
In early December, as the growing movement faced ferocious repression of the Saturday protests, Drouet was placed in preventive detention and his home was targeted for a police search. He was accused of “provocation of the commission of a crime or misdemeanor” and “organizing an illicit protest.” The sole basis for these charges was that he had declared, during an interview with journalists on BFMTV, that he would like to go into the Elysée presidential palace.
On December 8, Drouet was arrested during the fourth weekend of protests in Paris, supposedly for “bearing a banned weapon of category D,” that is, a piece of wood, according to press reports, and for “participation in a grouping formed to commit violence or damages.” Drouet is to be tried for these charges on June 5.
This relentless targeting of Drouet underscores yet again that Macron and the European Union have no intention of responding to the demands of the “yellow vests” or of workers in struggle across Europe. The Macron government, isolated and hated by masses of workers, is terrified by the “yellow vest” movement. Yet in response, it is proposing only to step up the policies of austerity and militarism that intensify social inequality and provoked the opposition of the “yellow vests.”
In his New Year’s wishes on December 31, Macron insisted he would continue his social cuts targeting pensions, unemployment insurance and public sector wage levels. He also denounced the criticisms of his presidency formulated by the “yellow vests,” lecturing the French people: “Dignity, my dear fellow citizens, is also respecting everyone. And I must say, I have seen unimaginable things in recent times and heard the unacceptable.”
This is the dictatorial language of a banker-president who claimed at the time of his election that France lacks a king, and who now seems to want to apply for that position, despite the opposition of an overwhelming majority of the French population to his policies.
The task of defeating the persecution of Drouet falls to the working class. More than 70 percent of French people support the “yellow vests,” who have evoked broad sympathy from workers around the world.
On Friday, on the eve of the 30th weekend of “yellow vest” protests, French prosecutors demanded a four-month prison sentence against Eric Drouet, one of the leaders of the “yellow vest” movement. He was accused of “grouping with a view to preparing violence or degradation” and “carrying a prohibited category D weapon” during a demonstration. Drouet’s conduct had been entirely peaceful, and the charges are fabricated out of whole cloth: here.
In a series of actions this past week, the government of French President Emmanuel Macron has intensified police-state repression aimed at crushing “yellow vest” protests against social inequality. On Tuesday, January 8, 28-year-old protester Hedi Martin was sentenced to six months’ jail without parole at a correctional tribunal in the southern town of Narbonne. His sole “crime” was to have published a Facebook post on January 2 that called for a “yellow vest” blockade of the petrol refinery at Port-la-Nouvelle. Police arrested him in the early hours of January 3, shortly after he published the post: here.
THE Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic warned France not to restrict freedom of assembly today. Following a visit to Paris last month, the senior European official criticised the French state’s brutal crackdown on the “yellow vest” movement, which has seen police assault demonstrators with tear gas, baton charges and even fire gas canisters directly at people’s faces and chests, risking fatalities: here.
Sixteenth week of protests: French “yellow vests” support strikes in North Africa: here.
On Wednesday, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux announced that President Emmanuel Macron would mobilize army units during this weekend’s “yellow vest” protests against austerity and inequality. The mobilization of the French army against demonstrators, for the first time since the French military carried out mass torture and murder over 60 years ago in the 1954–1962 Algerian war for independence from France, marks a historic watershed and a warning to workers internationally. Faced with increasingly militant opposition, the financial aristocracy is rapidly moving towards military-police rule: here.
Yesterday, the governor of the Paris military district told France Info that soldiers of the Operation Sentinel counter-terror mission had been authorized to fire today on the “yellow vests.” Asked about whether soldiers were capable of carrying out law enforcement duties, General Bruno Le Ray replied: “Our orders are sufficiently clear that we do not need to be worried at all. The soldiers’ rules of engagement will be fixed very rigorously. They will have different means for action faced with all types of threats,” he continued. “That can go as far as opening fire”: here.
German Ford workers: “The yellow vests are going about it the right way”: here.