Mass protests, I have come to realize, are very complicated phenomena. They can give rise to a wide swath of interpretations about their purpose and legitimacy. Their initial thrust seems to be fueled by a deep discontent, a reasonable grievance about unjustifiably oppressive activities or policies on the part of the authority.
The way in which protests are dealt with often is predicated on how well the authority can convince the general public that the protests are wrong. Now in totalitarian regimes, a brutal and deadly crackdown has historically been the solution (think Tiananmen Square). But in our so-called ‘democratic’ countries, it is not quite as simple. Absent of being able to label protesters as violent radicals who are not behaving in the interests of the nation, the authority may actually have to pay attention to the grievances of the protesters. That’s why a tried-and-true tactic of Western authority has long been to radicalize protests by instructing violent mercenaries to infiltrate the movement and steer demonstrations to run amok in order that the authority can put a violent smear across the entire campaign and legitimize a police crackdown.
But what happens if the police side with the protesters?
The Yellow Vests Movement
Sympathy from the police appears to be what’s happening in France’s Yellow Vest Movement (Mouvement des gilets jaunes), and it could be a very telling sign of things to come.
The Yellow Vests movement began with a petition posted in May 2018, but only went into action on Saturday, November 17. The movement is not only visible in the big cities, but has mobilized in rural areas as well. It started from an increase in gas prices based on Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to implement the famed carbon tax, and calls for Macron’s resignation as well.
The “yellow vests’” are known for Saturday protests, typically blocking roads and creating traffic jams. Resulting rioting and clashes in Paris has been the worst there in over a decade. The “yellow vest” was chosen as a symbol because all motorists had been required by law—since 2008—to have high-visibility vests in their vehicles when driving. As a result, reflective vests have become widely available, inexpensive, and symbolic.
Order Out Of Chaos
Of course, what do we hear about most in the Mainstream Media when it comes to legitimate protests? An initial strategy might be to disperse the focus of the message, portray it as if people have many different agendas, ‘muddy the waters’ if you will, and hope that quenches things a bit. If the movement does not die down by itself, then we inevitably hear about how violent it has become. This one is no exception.
The Yellow Vests Protests were essentially bringing a lot of awareness to righteous collective anger about the latest economic austerity measures that impacted gasoline prices for the middle class brought forward by the implementation of the carbon tax. The elite, predictably, must have made the call to ‘bring in the mercenaries’ to usher in the violence; the mainstream accordingly would focus primarily on the violence of burned cars and broken store windows.
Don’t believe it? Look at all the mainstream headlines. As usual, they are all about violence and how order will be restored (order out of chaos, ordo ab chao, the timeless strategy of the elite). Meanwhile, the actual reason that so many ordinary citizens would go to the trouble of protesting is buried somewhere in the article and given little importance. The New York Times’ ‘Macron Inspects Damage After ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests as France Weighs State of Emergency’ is a typical example.
We have to ask ourselves: would a grassroots movement of concerned law-abiding citizens (which most citizens are) motivate these ordinary citizens to set someone’s car on fire? How could destroying another citizen’s car actually help the movement? Looting and breaking store windows? Why would law-abiding citizens take their frustrations out on innocent retail vendors? Would ordinary citizens contrive to harm civilians with bombs and gas attacks?
Social Media Strikes Again
Thankfully, we have hand-held camera phones and social media to give a picture to protests the mainstream doesn’t want us to see. The mainstream wants to put a ‘protesters bad, policemen good’ on all their coverage. In the tweet below, we see two ways this illusion is broken. The first shows egregious police brutality against a protester, which only serves to rile people up in defense of the protesters; the second is an example of the heart of the protests: a grassroots group of protesters exercising their rights to gather and dissent, and a group of police officers who come to realize the righteousness of the people protesting, and who feel safe enough to take off their helmets to indicate their support.
BREAKING: WATCH: Paris: A group of French police officers remove their helmets to show solidarity with the French people against President Emmanuel Macron, as anti Macron protests continue throughout France. #GiletsJaunes pic.twitter.com/viNsNmBpvy
— BNL NEWS (@BreakingNLive) December 2, 2018
Here is a Youtube video with a separate incident in which French police officers decide to take off their helmets in support. Around the 1:35 mark we can hear the beginning of jubilant cheers on the part of the protesters when they see that the police take off their helmets in a clear sign of respectful acknowledgment to the protesters and their fight with the government.
‘Most Cops Support Yellow Vest Protesters’
This RT article details what no Western Mainstream Media outlet would ever admit: that the majority of police agree with the movement. Alexandre Langlois, the secretary-general of the VIGI police union, is quoted as saying the following:
“Most of us back the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests), because we will be directly affected by any rise in fuel prices. Most of us can’t live where we work, because it is either too expensive, or we would be arresting our next-door neighbors, so we drive significant distances. Our tax contributions are going up in several areas, but there are no commensurate wage rises… It is hard to accept these cruel measures.”
Aside from empathizing with the protesters, Langlois seems to indicate a growing awareness on the part of the police force in terms of their role in controlling protests, and how they might not be aligned with their higher-ups. While he doesn’t outright state that the most violent protesters are sent by the authority to create a different perception about the movement as a whole, he seems to make it clear that that the ‘radical elements’ do not represent the true nature or motivation of the protests.
Langlois agrees that the movement has been exploited by more radical elements, but says that cops are still reluctant to be sent out against the Yellow Vests, who took their name from the hi-visibility road workers’ jackets they have chosen as their symbol. “It is difficult, because in our heart we support the protesters,” said Langlois. “The assigned cops tell themselves: ‘We will again look like villains, like attack dogs for the ministry and the government.’”
While Langlois is clear that some areas, such as the heart of the French capital are volatile and dangerous arenas for demonstrations, he also blames the higher-ups for repeatedly mishandling the response. “Our colleagues on the ground have no operational freedom, they are merely following orders issued by those sitting somewhere else in police headquarters. At least once it would be right if the blame was assigned to the bosses, not those on the streets, who are doing what they can,” said Langlois.
More and more, police officers are acting from their hearts, in defiance of the orders from above. And that might be what is most troubling to the authority.
The “Yellow Vests” movement is pushing for Macron to reverse his decision to increase taxes on fuel. The President says they are necessary to combat climate change. And herein lies the quandary for Macron. He is very hesitant to give up his implementation of the carbon tax because implementing the carbon tax was the prime reason Macron was ushered into power by the elite in a rigged election.
Macron had an emergency meeting on Sunday, no doubt asking his elite puppet-masters what he should do. What came out of the meeting was a statement that Macron had asked his interior minister to prepare security forces for more protests, and he had also asked his prime minister Edouard Philippe to hold talks with political party leaders and representatives of the protesters.
There is little doubt that these planned talks between the government and representatives of the protesters have absolutely nothing to do with considering the grievances of the people of France, and have everything to do with regaining control of the situation, diffusing and dispersing the legitimate anger, and slowly manipulate things back to the main agenda of implementing the carbon tax. But with an ever-awakening citizenry that is more and more getting wise to the motivations and methods of the authority, this may not be as easily done as in times past–especially if law enforcement becomes part of the awakening citizenry.
If a conscious awakening really begins to take hold amongst members of law enforcement and military in our societies, then one of the most important means the elite has used to maintain control is gone. We may see the beginnings of that happening right now, and the implications are huge. But we have to ask ourselves, is the awakening citizenry ready to take control of the situation once the elite is defeated and their crimes revealed? Have we collectively done the internal work such that we will not simply succumb to new leaders that will be replacing one form of tyranny with another? Are we really ready and able to work together in harmony as a collective and structure our society as a manifestation of our highest vision for ourselves? The idea that we all play a part in this process will become ever more clear, and our success will be predicated on the work each of us as individuals has done to become sovereign.