The yellow vest protests continue

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The yellow vest protests continue

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What started out as a labor protest has expanded into something much larger. Students in Paris declared Tuesday December 11 “Black Tuesday,” and in solidarity with the so called yellow vest protest, blocked the entrances of nearly 60 schools.

Even France, a country with many large protests under its belt, has not seen anything like this in over 50 years when student and worker protesters brought the economy to a virtual halt.

On Monday, December 10, Emmanuel Macron gave a televised speech in response to the violent protests that have been going on for the past few weeks. In the speech, broadcast on France 24 English, he promised a raise in the minimum wage, that overtime would no longer be taxed, and employers would be encouraged to give their employees a tax free bonus at the end of the year.

Over the past couple weeks the protests have grown violent. Around 60 people have been hurt, over a thousand have been arrested and 4 people have lost their lives. Police used tear gas and water cannons in order to try an quell the protesters who numbered around 31,000 (The New York Times).

At this point it is unsure what the protesters are fighting for. They have no leader and no set list of demands. This makes it harder to bring the protests to a close.

This small grassroots protest, named after the vests all drivers must keep in their cars, started over a gas tax passed in 2014. It raised to cost of gas by around 16% in order to promote the use of ride sharing and public transport. This made people in the suburbs angry because they rely so much on cars for transportation.

It slowly grew into a nationwide protest over the high cost of living, low purchasing power, and high taxes. It grew violent around the 17 of November. It has spread across Europe and even to Canada.

“We are very much dispossessed. It’s like, how do you call it? Slavery. Monetized slavery. We work. Work and work only to be appropriated,” said protester Jean-Jacques Pierre to the New York Times.

It would seem that protesters have accomplished their goals, as the gas tax was rescinded three weeks into the protests, and Macron gave his speech on Monday. Despite all of this, protests are expected to continue this weekend.

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