Toulouse was the “capital” of Saturday’s gilets jaunes demonstrations

Protesters in Toulouse surrounded by tear gas during a demonstration on 13 April, 2019.Pascal PAVANI / AFP
At least 31,000 gilets jaunes took to the streets on Saturday , mostly peaceful demonstrations that are being billed as a “warm up” to a massive day of protest next week when President Emmanuel Macron lays out the findings of his national great debate.

The media have labelled Saturday’s protests as “the calm before the storm” ahead of so-called “Act 23” or “Ultimatum 2” protests on 20 April – which marks the movement’s five-month anniversary – and will deliver a response to Macron’s 10-week nationwide debate with citizens on how to address the country’s problems.

With the President due to set out his conclusions over the coming days, the gilets jaunes are already anticipating his failure.  They have contested the official Interior Ministry figure of 31,000 across the country on Saturday, putting turnout at more than 80,000 people nationwide, according to their Facebook page.

It was a revival of sorts for the grassroots movement, with protest numbers picking up for the first demonstrations held under the new “anti-rioters” laws – which hand greater powers to security forces. A week earlier the gilets jaunes had seen their lowest turnout since protests began in four months ago.

A rally in Toulouse – designated the “capital” of Saturday’s demonstration – was marked by clashes between protesters and police, who used teargas, sound grenades and a water cannon to push back an estimated 4,500 protesters. Fourteen people were taken to hospital suffering injuries, while 37 people were arrested.

Elsewhere, marches were held in Paris, Nantes, Lille, Rouen, Caen, Marseille and Montpellier.

Source: RFI