France’s yellow vest protesters attack journalists, sparking calls for greater protection
French media and reporters’ organisations are denouncing attacks on journalists by “yellow vest” anti-government protesters and calling for better protection after a series of incidents this weekend.
- Journalists covering the protests are increasingly a target for demonstrators
- The French Interior Minister has promised to prosecute protesters attacking reporters
- The yellow vest movement started as a protest against high fuel prices and has turned into a fight for social justice
Paris police fired water cannon and tear gas to push back demonstrators from around the Arc de Triomphe monument in the ninth straight weekend of protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms.
Journalists covering the protests are increasingly becoming a target for the demonstrators.
In the western city of Rouen, La Chaîne Info (LCI) television reporters were attacked by a group of protesters.
One of the security agents working with the TV crew was beaten while he was on the ground and had his nose broken, with footage of the incident widely shared on social media.
In Paris, an LCI reporter was pushed to the ground as demonstrators tried to take away her camera, the station said, adding it would take legal action against the attackers.
Several other stations, including BFM TV and franceinfo, showed images of reporters being hassled or pushed around during Saturday’s “yellow vest” marches.
‘This is anti-democratic blackmail’
Reporters without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire called on authorities to take action.
“This is anti-democratic blackmail from people who consider they can beat up journalists if they disagree with the way events are covered,” he said on France Info radio.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Twitter anyone attacking reporters would be brought to justice.
“In our democracy, the press is free … attacking journalists is attacking the right to inform,” he said.
The yellow vest protests have been taking place since the middle of November.
Started as a protest against high fuel prices, the movement — which has no designated leaders and is not linked to political parties or unions — has morphed into a fight for social justice and more direct democracy.
Several demonstrations have degenerated into violent clashes with police.
Over the coming week, Mr Macron will launch three months of national debate to air protesters’ grievances in the hope of appeasing the movement, which has undermined his authority and upended his reform drive.