Act XI and the ‘yellow night’: What the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ have planned for France on Saturday

Act XI and the 'yellow night': What the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ have planned for France on Saturday
Photos: AFP
France’s yellow vests are gearing up for an eleventh protest weekend, with the first ‘yellow night’ march scheduled to take place in Paris on Saturday. Here's what they have planned.

More than two months after France's Gilets Jaunes protests began, the movement continues to rage on, but this weekend the ‘manif’ mood in Paris is likely to come with a twist.

Yellow night in the capital

One of the most followed Gilets Jaunes groups on Facebook has called for a “nuit jaune” (yellow night) protest in the French capital, although it is scheduled to begin rather early, at 2pm on Saturday in Place de La République.

“We’ll gather every night from this Saturday onwards, and we’ll keep coming till at least the end of the national consultation (Grand Débat),” reads the Facebook post.

“We’ll make Place de la République our giant ring road.”

The “yellow night” event has been compared in the French press to Nuit Debout, a French social movement that started in Paris on March 31 2016 against the proposed El Khomri labour laws, then spreading across many French cities.

Eric Drouet, one of the more radical figureheads of the social protest movement, has shared in the sentiment of testing out the nighttime protest event, leading more “yellow vests” to sign up.

Organisers have promised there will be no “violence of threatening behaviour” during this first nocturnal “yellow vest” demo, stating instead that it will be a march made up of “pacifist citizens” looking to denounce the “violent and undemocratic repression” of French police against the Gilets Jaunes.

Drouet — who was arrested in early January for organizing a central Paris protest without declaring it and who also faces trial for carrying a weapon – had previously launched a poll on Facebook in which he asked Gilets Jaunes what protest movement they preferred next.

The choices included a 48-hour demonstration, a boycott of multinationals and supermarkets, blocking refineries and shopping centres or a night march.

The popular vote has since swayed in favour of the latter. 

More “yellow nights” across France?

Gilets Jaunes in the southern French city of Toulouse were actually the first to organise a night protest, which took place last week. Attendants were spurred on by another divisive figurehead of the movement- Maxime Nicolle – who suggested they “remain on Saturday night to tire out the police until the very end.”

The outspoken vlogger, who goes by the name of Fly Rider online, has hinted that he plans to join an Act XI protest in the city of Bordeaux, so it is possible that a nightly rally could also be held in the port city on the Garonne River.

A human chain across France?

Another event launched on a prominent Gilet Jaunes Facebook group has called for protesters to join hands across l’Héxagone, forming three lines crossing each other to hypothetically reach all five corners of the country.

The idea may seem far-fetched but it has gathered interest online, especially in Montpellier and Brittany, also being relayed by Éric Drouet.

Organisers attached the following map to give supporters an idea of what motorways and roads the star-shaped human chain would be formed along.

It remains to be seen whether there has been enough organisation for the gargantuan task to actually work on Saturday.

Same old Saturday demos?

Standard Gilets Jaunes demos can be expected across major cities in France this Saturday, including in Toulon, Marseille and Rennes.

The Gilet Jaunes movement continued unabated last Saturday, with 84,000 people joining protests groups across France according to Interior Ministry figures.

This was practically the same turnout as during Act 9 so there isn’t anything to suggest that numbers will dwindle this weekend either.

Another Gilets Jaunes protest gathering in the capital is scheduled to take place in front of France’s Ministry of Overseas Territories to show support for the “distant territories” when it comes to the grievances they share with French citizens in metropolitan France.

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