‘Yellow Vests’ Confront French Leader Macron in Public Causing Security Scare
Macron engaged in a heated exchange with discontent demonstrators.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte were surrounded in public by “Yellow Vest” protesters on Tuesday leading to serious questions about the security of the leader of the French Republic.
The incident occurred while Macron and his wife walked with bodyguards in the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre Museum in Paris, after the President had presided earlier over a ceremony to celebrate France’s national holiday, Bastille Day.
The presidential couple and their security detail were surrounded by agitated “Yellow Vest” demonstrators demanding Macron’s resignation, and leading the President to engage in a face-to-face argument with them, AFP and France24 reported.
The group of anti-government “gilets jaunes” demonstrators spotted Macron and started following him, hurling abuse.
The incident was caught in a video posted on the Gilets Jaunes Infos page on Facebook. It showed a few dozen protesters booing the President, and shouting “Macron demission!” (“Macron resign!”) while surrounding the presidential party, with many filming on their phones.
Macron could then be seen engaging in a close encounter with angry men waving fingers in his face while complaining about police brutality against protesters and economic inequality.
The heated exchange lasted about six minutes while security guards were looking on.
Macron repeatedly urged the group of “Yellow Vest” protesters to “be cool,” while taking time to listen to their complaints, saying he understood their “feeling of injustice.”
“There are also violent people among yourselves,” he responded to complaints about police brutality.
“This is a public holiday, I am taking a walk with my wife, and you are heckling me,” Macron tells one of them.
The exchange ends with one protester thanking Macron for listening, and saying:
“I cannot even curse at him” as the president turned to leave.
“All the better!” replied Macron.
In follow-up comments about the incident on Wednesday, French politicians expressed their concern about the security of the President.
“It poses a real security problem,” the head of the opposition rightwing Republicans party, Christian Jacob, told French television.
“How can the president of the republic take such risks?” he added.
“A president walking in the Tuileries where there are so many people should expect to come across detractors,” commented leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, adding that Macron should have been more “cautious”.
According to an official count, about 2,500 demonstrators and 1,800 law enforcement agents have been injured in weekly Yellow Vest protests that kicked off in November 2018.
After the summer of 2019, Yellow Vest rallies have been held only sporadically with smaller crowds.
Neither Macron nor the demonstrators visible in the video were wearing face masks which is recommended in France for preventing coronavirus contagion.
(Banner image: Video grab from Facebook)