Toulouse. Haute-Garonne: what remains of the yellow vests?

“We all wished each other a happy birthday this Tuesday by Facebook, by email or by text.” Confined, the yellow vests are “on hiatus but still alive,” says one of them who accepts, on condition of anonymity, to testify to what remains, in the Pink City, of this popular uprising , two years after November 17, 2018. At its height, the Saturday demonstrations drained more than 10,000 people in what had become a stronghold of the movement. But even before the health crisis, the yellow vests did not cross the course of the summer of 2019. Despite the national appeal of September, only a few hundred demonstrators beat the pavement. Today, despite the confinement, about thirty continue to meet in Jean-Jaur├Ęs at 2 p.m. on Saturday before holding an assembly around the fountain on Place Wilson.

“Booster force”

“The question is whether the movement is really dead or whether it will resume, in what form and under what name,” continues this Toulousain in yellow who has some eighty events on the clock. “We were a mass movement, we became a supporting force for other social movements.” Yellow vests thus made their appearance on Tuesday at the War Memorial against the security law but also on November 7 with the nursing staff of the CHU or on the 10 with the teachers.

If the refusal of a leader is still the rule, the yellow vests are no less structured. The working groups meet in assembly which delegates representatives to the Assembly of Assemblies. At the heart of social networks, two Facebook pages unite all those who identify with the movement. “Yellow Gillets Toulouse” has become “Toulouse en Luttes” alongside “Resistance Tolosa”. The demands remain the same: above all “direct democracy” and “social justice”. During the meetings, far-left activists, supporters of the “exit from capitalism” and pacifist yellow vests, who are “the most numerous”, assures this participant. He deplores it: criticism of the government’s management of the health crisis coexists here with “a lot of conspiracy theories”.

The recent municipal elections raised the question of a yellow vests list. An idea discarded due, in part, to the presence of Archipelago seen as “a citizen list” although “recovered by left parties”. One of the headliners of the demonstrations, Odile Maurin, thus joined Archipel and now sits on the benches of the opposition.

Figure of the yellow vests of the roundabouts, Raymond Stocco, retired from the aeronautics, always rejects him, the Toulouse movement considered “manipulated”: “this is not the initial spirit of the yellow vests”. For him, everything can restart. “But today, there is such a difficulty for businesses, businesses and craftsmen that we cannot block.” The man at the Lespinasse roundabout dreams of a great economic blockade that would bring about “a fusion of forces with the traders” and other losers from the health crisis.