Watch the extracts from our 2022 meeting on the Yellow Vests movement below – turn on English captions for subtitles.
5 years ago, the Yellow Vests movement in France took to the streets for the first time with over 300 000 people across France demonstrating, constructing barricades, and blocking roads.
Several years of repeated mass demonstrations, widespread direct action, blockades, actions, and connections across movements (climate justice, social justice, anti-racism) would follow – more often than not in the name of social justice and the right to a good and dignified life. While the protests began from issues of taxation, from the start it was very clear that the issue was deeply anchored in questions of class, power, and inequality.
On the day of the 5 year anniversary of this first day of action, we want to share with you an excerpt from two webinars we conducted in 2022, featuring four people who were either Yellow Vests themselves or have been working very closely with the movement.
What was actually the nature of this movement? How did it deal with the far right, with racism? How was it perceived in society and depicted in the press? What were the internal and organizational consequences?
We hope this video will give you some answers to these questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d be interested in similar content or if you have questions!
—————————————GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND LINKS ———————————–
* Assemblies of Assemblies: horizontal and anti-hierarchical national coordination meetings of the local groups and chapters of the Yellow Vests movement. The first call to create such an Assembly came from the Yellow Vests of Commercy: https://en.labournet.tv/assembly-assemblies. Declaration following the first Assembly of Assemblies in Commercy: https://roarmag.org/2019/01/30/gilets-jaunes-commercy-assembly/
* RIC – Référendum d’Initiative Citoyenne. One of the main demands of the Yellow Vests movement in an effort to reclaim direct democracy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_initiative_referendum_(France)
* Commercy – famous in the Yellow Vests movement history for being the place where the call for the first Assembly of Assemblies came from (see “Assemblies of Assemblies” above)
* Cerveaux Non Disponibles: independent French activist media, covering social, climate and international struggles. Website: https://cerveauxnondisponibles.net/ – Twitter/X: https://twitter.com/CerveauxNon and https://twitter.com/cnd_global
* Act 18 – see “Timeline” “16 March: “Act XVIII” here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_vests_protests
* Traoré family – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Adama_Traor%C3%A9
* Maimed as an example – Les mutilé.e.s pour l’exemple: https://www.lesmutilespourlexemple.fr/. Collective initiative of people maimed, amputated or gravely injured by the police during the Yellow Vests demonstrations through its use of flash-balls, batons and grenades.
* Justice, Mutual Aid and Truth – Réseau d’Entraide Vérité et Justice. Network created in 2021 to support and unite victims (killed, maimed or injured) and families in their struggle against state racism, police violence and crime, and the abuse reproduced by prison environments. Focusing on networking, education, raising funds and offering legal support so that victims and/or their families can find justice. Fundraising page here, Twitter here, Instagram here.
* 2005 riots. 3 weeks of riots that took place in France in October and November 2005 after the death of two young people as they were being chased by the police. Wikipedia article here, Le Monde article in English here, a collection of social scientists’ takes on the riots here.