There are new examples that suggest the police are becoming tired and therefore turning the old brutal tactics used in the post WWII era when French riot police smashed protesters and asked questions later. In Paris, a man was reportedly hit in the face by a rubber bullet, a sometimes dangerous projectile that can do harm at close quarters, possibly disfiguring an eye or the face. In Bordeaux an MP accused police of assaulting him.
Recent protests have rallied 39,300 people nationwide, including 4,000 in Paris – these figures are from the interior ministry, down from 46,000 the previous week. There are now internal investigations on some of the more damaging issues that have arisen, namely the rubber bullets, which are being questioned by some as excessive force. The weapons fire 40-millimetre rubber projectiles, said to be nonlethal, but have been associated with several serious injuries to a number of demonstrators. The investigation continues and for their part, the protesters seem to be fully focused – they are fighting daily battles and are in some cities, fighting for a cause that the truly believe in. They see it as an urban war.
In some cities police are using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to break up the protestors. The physical damage increases as bus shelters, a bank branch and a travel agency were burned and destroyed in the western city of Nantes. Police have been using tear gas, to stop violence as some protests have become more explosive than others. There were new protests in Bordeaux, Morlaix, Arles and Lyon this past week with some cars set ablaze in several cities.
Despite the debates initiated by Macron, the protesters have said that this is just a diversion tactic that has no real meaning. The original protests on November 17th saw over 280,000 people turn up – many who are still roaming the streets in pitch battles around major cities.