Tensions between the French police and protesters of the "yellow vest" increased with the use of force and special weapons by the forces of order to suppress demonstrations.
French police were armed with LBD-40 defensive ball launchers at Saturday's final rally, deploying rubber bullets the size of a golf ball. An influential figure in the movement, Jerome Rodrigues was hit by one of the bullets this weekend, wounding one eye and leaving him "handicapped for life," his lawyer said, according to the newspaper. York Times.
As violence associated with the protests intensified, members of the French parliament began Tuesday to debate an anti-riot bill, France 24. The controversial legislation would ban those who incite the violence of attending future rallies and also aims to empower rioters for the damage caused by the protests.
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Since its creation last November, 11 people have died during the demonstrations and thousands have been injured. According to The Local, at least 15 people were seriously injured in the eyes, including Rodrigues, who now wears a blindfold and a police officer. Four people were also reported to have had parts of their hands ripped off by "scatter grenades", which explode and throw smaller rubber balls.
Many of the recent wounds were reportedly caused by LBD-40s, weapons used only by the French and Northern Irish police. The throwers throw rubber balls 1.5 cm wide, nicknamed "flash-balls" by the protesters. The bullet "tears the skin and can fracture the bones, as if someone had been violently hit with a baton," said Chloé Bertolus, a Parisian facial surgeon, at the New York Times.
Earlier this month, a man remained in a coma for six days after being hit by one of the "lightning balls".
The "yellow vests" or "yellow vests" began as a popular online movement that has since snowballed. The protests began in response to the rise in the diesel tax imposed on French citizens by President Macron, which he subsequently dropped due to the outbreak of violence. At this point, however, it was too late – the movement began to represent opposition to the disparity of wealth in France and a rallying cry for those who advocated social change, including an increase in wages, pensions and the minimum wage. .
PROTESTS OF YELLOW VESTS GO IN THE STREETS OF FRANCE FOR THE FIFTH WEEK AS MACRON CALLS FOR "ORDER & # 39;
Jean-Marc Michaud, an activist who also lost his eye during protests against the yellow vest, said the French government was trying to forcibly arrest peaceful citizens.
"The government claims we are looters and violent protesters, but many of us are just peaceful civilians," he said. "The government is not listening to us and is now trying to silence us with repression in the streets."
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As the movement picked up speed, it was tainted by antisemitic incidents. On one occasion in December, a group of protesters sang a song that used an inverted Nazi salute as an associated gesture, then harassed an old Holocaust survivor in the subway. While a growing number of extremists seem to be gaining footholds in the movement, protesters have been trying to fend off the reputation of an organization of the far right.
Saturday, a meeting of yellow vests in the north of France reaffirmed that they were "neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic".