Several “yellow vest” social media groups are busy organising demonstrations across France for Act VIII this Saturday (January 5th) in the hope that, with the festive period out of the way, people will be ready to rejoin the ranks of the gilets jaunes.
It is also hoped by protesters that not only the new year but also the arrest of one of the movement's leaders Eric Drouet for organising an unauthorised protest on Wednesday will have fired up some of the group's supporters.
Drouet, who was released on Thursday has called on “yellow vests” to protest at the Place de la Bourse, home of the historical Paris stock exchange in the 2nd arrondissement of the French capital.
Meanwhile another group is calling for a demonstration at the Trocadero in the 16th arrondissement and Place de la République, as well as in other locations that will be revealed at the last moment.
Eric Drouet, a leader of the “Yellow vests” movement, next to his lawyer Kheops Lara. Photo: AFP
Police will no doubt be uncertain of how seriously to take these locations after the surprise protest at Montmartre on December 22nd during Act VI of the demonstrations. A protest was originally planned for Versailles before the location was changed at the last minute.
And perhaps more worryingly for the government is that some of the online groups have called for an “end to pacifism” and a “hardening” of the movement.
On Thursday, France en Colere (Angry France) — one of the “yellow vest” social media groups led by Drouet — issued an angry open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron in response to the French leader's New Year's Eve address in which Macron acknowledged the “anger” among anti-government protesters but warned that hateful speech and actions would not be tolerated.
Macron during his New Year's Eve address. Photo: AFP
Meanwhile Priscillia Ludosky, one of the other prominent figures of the movement, has called on gilets jaunes to meet on Saturday at 2 pm at the Hotel de Ville in central Paris for a speech in response to the president's speech.
The gathering will be followed by a march to the National Assembly.
This Saturday will also see the first women's yellow vest event which is set to take place at 11 am in the French capital.
Protests are also being prepared elsewhere in France, with tens of thousands of people expressing interest in each of these events and a few hundred saying they will attend.
Police estimated that 2,500 “yellow vests” were gathered at 200 spots across France on Thursday, indicating that the movement may be running out of steam, however this figure has been disputed by the gilets jaunes.
On Saturday December 29th, 800 people gathered in Paris according to the police prefecture and a total of 12,000 protested across France.
But despite the fact that the movement seems like it could be dying down, 55 percent of French people want the gilets jaunes to continue, according to a poll released on Thursday, with improving spending power revealed as the top priority of 2019 for the French.