Lost eyes... hands blown off: Injuries from 'yellow vest' clashes with French police mount

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Lost eyes... hands blown off: Injuries from 'yellow vest' clashes with French police mount
Photo: David Jocard, AFP

Violent clashes between the police and yellow vests since the start of the movement have caused many injuries including the loss of eyes and hands and led to claims of police violence. Here are the latest statistics.


Less than three months since it kicked off, the Yellow Vests movement has turned into one of the longest and most violent social protests in modern France.
Hundreds of protestors and police alike have been injured since the start of the protests with claims of police violence over the controversial use of rubber-bullets and stun grenades by French security forces have been gaining ground. 
Here's a look at the numbers.
1,700 people
According to government figures, 1,700 people have been injured and 1,000 policemen or gendarmes have been hurt in the 11 weeks of conflict.
Out of those injured, 100 have been seriously hurt and 11 people have now died. Most of those casualties resulted from road accidents at blockades in the early days of the protest. The government stress that no protester has dies as a result of police action.
One protester died of a heart attack during Saturday's demo in Paris that turned violent.
Out of those injured, 15 people are thought to have sustained serious eye injuries, including a police officer who lost an eye.
One of the many who have lost the use of an eye include one of the leaders of the yellow vests, Jérôme Rodrigues, who was badly wounded in his right eye at the weekend.
Other sources claim different numbers however. The French left-wing newspaper Libération puts the numbers of yellow vests (and some journalists) hurt severely in the protests at 109, while the charity against state violence 'Désarmons-les' has estimated the number of badly to severely injured to be 124. 
According to the same charity, the total number of injured is also much higher than the government statistics, at between 2000 to 3000 people.
"We're weary of the government statistics as they only take into account the number of injuries related by the health authorities. However, people don't always go the to the doctor's and so they are not included in the stats," the charity said. 
Another source also points to much higher numbers of people injured by police. The independent journalist David Dufresne, who's often cited in mainstream French media, counted 353 people injured directly as a result of police action. 
These injuries caused by police during the protests mostly result from the uses of the security forces' “defensive bullets” known as Flashballs or LBDs and stun grenades which contain a dose of TNT.
Police are forbidden from aiming the bullets at people's faces but as already mentioned at least a dozen people have suffered serious eye injuries including the permanent loss of sight, by these rubber bullets.
After an appeal by France Info some 51 victims of police Flashball came forward. Some had been seriously maimed including one named Vanessa Langard who was hit in the face by the so-called "defence bullet".
"My eye has lost three quarters of its vision. I can just see shapes and colours now and it's not going to get any better," she said.
Four people have reportedly had part of their hands blown off as a consequence of the use of the grenades. 
Comprehensive statistics on the use of these rubber bullets and dispersal grenades are not available although according to stats by  "Désarmons-les", 78 of the people who were severely injured were injured by rubber bullets fired by the police.
Tear gas statistics for the last few months weren't available either, however as an example, during once single protest in Paris on December 1st, police forces fired off tear gas 10 000 times, roughly once for every protester, according to police figures.
5,000 people
The police have launched launched 101 internal investigations into injuries caused during the protests since they began. The IGPN the so-called police of the police are investigating each one but so far no police officer has been reprimanded for misuse of weapons or for assaulting protesters.
One of the police officers being investigated is the high-ranking officer seen in the video below punching a protester.
Overall more than 5,000 protesters have been arrested by police since the start of the movement, more than 4,000 have been convicted of offences and over 200 imprisoned, with the numbers growing each week, according to a group of academics against police violence.
In Numbers: Just how much have the 'yellow vest' protests cost France?


Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2019/01/30 09:27
The simple solution? Don't mess about with the police and you will not get hurt.

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