On November 17, 2018, French men and women gathered for the first time on the capital’s iconic Champs-Élysées and on hundreds of roundabouts throughout France to protest against the high cost of living. They were easily recognisable by their yellow high-visibility vests. The months-long demonstrations against the government of President Emmanuel Macron turned violent and were met with a fierce crackdown by security forces. Almost four years later, those who participated in the movement tell FRANCE 24’s reporters how the struggle has changed their lives.
Priscillia Ludosky (above) has been a Yellow Vest from day one. She is now participating in a programme created by personalities from the nonprofit world, the Academy of Future Leaders. The aim is to train in politics in order to eventually stand for election. Prisicillia, who long hesitated to enter politics because she does not trust “the institutions or the system”, now feels that she cannot get there any other way. She believes that more and more Yellow Vests share her view, exhausted by the “lack of political response” to them turning out to protest every Saturday.
Alexandre Barot (below) also participated in most of the “Acts” – the name given to the Yellow Vest protests both in Paris and around the country. Convinced of the need to use violence to make himself heard, he was one of those referred to as “the thugs”. He paid dearly for it, with two three-month stays in prison, including one in the disciplinary ward.
Despite his life being turned upside down by the movement, Alex is still involved today with the small community of Yellow Vests who continue to meet at a roundabout in the Normandy town of Lisieux.
The life of Hedi Barini (below) has also changed completely. On December 1, 2018, while peacefully attending a protest in front of the prefecture of Puy-en-Velay in southern France, he was seriously injured in one eye by a crowd dispersal grenade thrown by a gendarme.
Nearly four years later, he is still recovering from his injury and has become heavily involved in the fight against police brutality. Like most of the 30 people who were blinded in one eye by French security forces during the Yellow Vest protests, he unsuccessfully filed a police complaint. Today, Hedi is appealing against the dismissal of his case and is hoping to finally obtain the official status of a victim of police brutality.
Director: Julia Guggenheim
Camera: Cécile Khindria, Thibault Jeanpierre
Film editing: Sébastien Eppinger
Senior producer: Olivier Ponthus
Mixing: Planimonteur – Maxime Scheidecker
Produced by: Yemaya Productions – Léa Sansonetti, Nelly Mabillat