More than 10,000 people marched through Paris on Sunday in protest against “yellow vest” violence during anti-government demonstrations over the past 11 weeks.
Seeking to quell the weekly protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people to the streets since mid-November, often culminating in violent clashes with police, President Emmanuel Macron has offered concessions and debates.
In Sunday’s counter-protest, the crowds marched in the rain from the Place de la Nation square to the Bastille monument, some chanting “Yes to democracy, no to revolution” as they waved French and European Union flags.
Known as the “red scarf” movement, the centrist initiative is the brainchild of a Toulouse engineer who was disgusted by the violence seen among more extremist “yellow vest” demonstrators.
Many people participating in the protest said they were not against “yellow vest” demands for greater assistance for France’s poor, but were tired of the clashes and destruction that have marked protests.
A nursing manager who gave her name as Marie-Line said she believed the yellow vests had just cause to “grumble,” but came “to say that this verbal and physical violence must stop.”
Francois Patriat, a senator from Macron’s centrist party, told AFP at the demonstration,”It’s not a protest against the yellow vests – it’s a protest to say, you’ve made your demands, we are listening to them.”
He added, “There are other places to discuss this than the street. You cannot block the country and economy because you consider the president to be illegitimate.”
Sunday’s protest was almost twice the size of the “yellow vest” demonstration in the Fencgh capital a day earlier, when some 4,000 people came out to vent their rage against Macron, a former banker.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse