What’s the buzz about the Yellow Jackets?


Gabrielle Krieger

Arts Editor Gabrielle Krieger recently returned from a six week exchange in Guérande, France. 

Les Gilets Jaunes, or better known in the United States as the Yellow Vests, is a movement of protests in France that began with an opposition to France’s high fuel taxes.

The protests officially began in November 2018 with people wearing the reflective yellow vests that all drivers are required to have in their cars, and marching in the streets. The protests have since turned violent, most notably in Paris, where people fight the police, destroy property, and set fire to cars.

Since the beginning of the movement, the majority of Gilet Jaunes now only gather on Saturdays.

Throughout my stay in France, my exchange family and I have had to be very careful about which cities we visit on Saturdays, as each set of protesters is different. Nantes, for example, was avoided because the Gilet Jaunes can get rowdy and dangerous with people demonstrating through acts like breaking windows.

On the other hand, I did visit Vannes one Saturday and witnessed a march. These marchers were much more friendly; they didn’t mind me taking photos and one Gilet Jaune even stopped to pass out posters, chat with my host family and I, and offer us a place in the march, which we politely declined.

Although Macron has repealed the higher fuel taxes, there continues to be unrest.

Talking to my host family, I have come to understand that the Gilet Jaunes’ requests have only broadened, instead of one shared goal like lowering fuel taxes, they each want something different.

My exchange family agrees that while the original purpose of the protest made sense, without a common goal, they’re all focusing on their individual needs, not a common greater good. They’re also choosing to concentrate on what they don’t have and forgetting all of the things they do have (universal healthcare, fair hours, good public transportation, etc.).