France's 'Yellow Vest' Protesters ('Gilets Jaunes')

France is still in the midst of violent protests.

Thousands of protesters called “Gilets Jaunes” or “the yellow vests” have hit the streets of France, since November wearing bright yellow safety vests.

The yellow vest protesters started out peaceful but the violence seems to be escalating.

On January 5, protesters wearing bright yellow safety vests, and some dressed in black, attacked a government ministry building in Paris. A government spokesperson had to be evacuated out the back.

But why are the french protesting?

First, let's clear up what the Yellow Vests are and are not.

The Yellow Vests in France are NOT a formal organization, and remain largely leaderless. That fact makes it hard to determine what all of these protesters actually stand for.  On the other hand, it’s a lot easier to see what it is that they’re AGAINST — and that’s the administration of President Emmanuel Macron.

He pledged to cut France’s carbon emissions by 40% before 2030. And since 75% of energy emitted in France originates from fossil fuels, Macron instituted a fuel tax in late 2017 to discourage the use of motor vehicles by French citizens.

Petitions and other viral posts began to circulate through “Anger Groups,” on Facebook. These groups are places where average citizens could vent about local political issues. Some of these viral posts have also helped spread fake news and misinformation and administrators of these groups who have peddled conspiracy theories have gone on French television to stoke violence.

And one of the viral Facebook posts actually inspired the Yellow Vests worn by protesters.

In this episode, we’re taking a look at French President Emmanuel Macron’s political reforms and how tensions in France reached this boiling point.