PARIS, France — The French government announced a moratorium on a hike in fuel prices Tuesday following a weekend of protests authorities say were the worst the country's seen in 50 years.
The rallies marked the third week of “gilet jaunes,” or yellow vest protests, across France, named after the high-visibility safety jackets the French are required to keep in their cars. The movement first came together on social media to protest an increase in fuel taxes. But among the chants of “Macron Resign! Macron Resign!” at the protest, it was obvious it had shifted to anger over the impact on the working and middle class of Macron's economic policies.
“We need a balance between the rich and poor in France,” Jimmy Moreno told VICE News, standing among tear gas and water cannons at L’Arc de Triomphe. Jimmy came to protest peacefully and voted for Macron in the 2017 election, but says he wouldn’t vote for him again.
“He has shown himself to be cold-hearted and inhuman, little more than a banker, with no place governing a nation,” Jimmy said.
“What's happening now because of the government's violent actions and the yellow vests' violent reaction, is representative of French history. Every time there is a shift in|governance or a revolution, there is violence, it's unavoidable."
The government has struggled to negotiate with the yellow vests which is an apolitical grassroots movement that has no clear leadership. But the smashed shop windows, graffiti, and cars burning in the streets got the government's attention.
“We need the violence to stop because the violence we had against police, against institutions last week is just unacceptable so we need it to stop,” said Aurore Bergé, a deputy in the French Parliament and spokesperson for Macron’s party En Marche!.
This segment originally aired December 3, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO