Man loses hand to flash grenade as yellow vest protests return to France

Man loses hand to flash grenade as yellow vest protests return to France 

A protester from the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vests) movement is evacuated by ‘Street Medics’ after being injured as clashes erupt on the Champs Elysees during the ‘Act XIII’ demonstration (the 13th consecutive national protest on a Saturday) in Paris, France, Feb. 9, 2019. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Paris, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- A protester had his hand blown off by a flashbang grenade he picked up during a thirteenth consecutive Saturday of anti-establishment protests in France, authorities said.

The demonstrator, part of the so-called gilet jaunes («yellow vests») movement that has rocked the country in recent weeks, was with a group outside the National Assembly building in the capital Paris – the epicenter of the nationwide rallies – when the accident occurred.

Speaking to French media, police said the man had picked up the crowd-dispersal grenade in a bid to throw it back towards police but the device exploded whilst it was still in his hand.

What began as anti-fuel tax protests in Nov. 2018, the yellow vests – who owe their sobriquet to the high-visibility jackets the protesters wear – have since morphed into catch-all demonstrations against the French government and President Emmanuel Macron.

Protests took hold across France on Saturday, with the largest concentrations due to take place in Paris.

Gatherings were expected in Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier, Rouen and Caen, with some of those calling to protest a recent first reading of a law in the National Assembly this week that called for more measures to be taken against violence occurring on the fringes of the movement, which is attributed to far-right and far-left groups.

Other meetings were encouraged to denounce alleged police brutality in previous rallies.

Two weeks ago, one of the most recognizable faces in the effectively leaderless movement, Jerome Rodrigues, was hospitalized after he was hit in the eye by a projectile allegedly fired by riot police.

Meanwhile, some moderates in the core of the movement have begun to sketch a plan on how to launch a campaign in the European Parliament elections, slated for May.

This has won them the support of the Italian government, a coalition between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League, who met with some of the more prominent yellow vests.

This brought ire from the French government, which recalled its ambassador to Rome for consultations.

According to a recent poll by opinion tracker YouGov on Friday, two-thirds of French people who were consulted supported the yellow vests.

Eric Drouet, one of the figures for the yellow vests’ more radical factions, told EFE he was against any candidate presenting themselves for the European elections under the banner of the movement.