November 28, 2021

3 years later, the “hard core” of yellow vests still wants to be heard

On the occasion of the 3 years of the yellow vests movement, many gatherings are planned in France. Some still continue their actions regularly, but recognize that the mobilization is no longer that of the beginnings.

“We must come, let people move!” On the occasion of the third anniversary of the beginnings of the yellow vests movement, Evelyne Liberal, activist from the start, launches a cry from the heart. Three years ago, on November 17, 2018, this 52-year-old woman organized her first gathering around the Petit-Fontaine roundabout, located at a motorway exit a few kilometers from Cambrai (North).

At the time, more than 4,000 people occupied this roundabout for weeks on end, the cradle of the Cambrésienne mobilization. “We took turns, depending on each other’s professional obligations,” recalls Evelyne Liberal, interviewed by BFMTV.com. A small camp made of wooden pallets had even been installed there, before being dismantled by the police.

Roundabouts, “we all left feathers there”

Evelyne Liberal remembers the beginnings of “a social movement such as did not exist at the time”: “It was nice to see people who, for the first time, dared to leave their homes, talk about money , speak up to say that they weren’t doing well financially. “

“Today there are fewer people, that’s for sure,” admits this real estate agent. “Some have given up a bit … A lot of cars are still honking our horns for support, but there are fewer of us there”. “Often people call me in the street to say ‘well then the yellow vests, we do nothing for that?'”, Says Evelyne Liberal. “Now I answer them: ‘well we are expecting you, come with us!”.

This Saturday, no gathering is planned at the Petit-Fontaine roundabout. “This year, I organized myself differently,” continues Evelyne Liberal, who will attend a meeting scheduled for Douai that day.

“I understand that by force, people are fed up. It was long and heavy for everyone, we all left feathers there. Especially since they have the impression that nothing or almost nothing has changed. “since November 2018.

“It’s getting worse”

“Things have not improved but that’s why we need everyone! For many of us, it’s even worse than before, especially because of the Covid crisis, which The prices at the pump have exploded … My full tank of gasoline, for example, has increased by 10 euros in one year! “

An opinion widely shared by Patrice and his wife Carole Grassart. “We are fighting for purchasing power, because for us it is getting worse and worse. Everything is more expensive but salaries are not moving,” Patrice Grassart told BFMTV.com. Last Friday, the couple in their fifties celebrated the 3 years of yellow vests on the Dentelle roundabout in Caudry (North), as on the first day.

Despite the cold, there were about thirty yellow vests gathered that day to share a barbecue, as in the old days. Our colleagues from The voice of the North, present on site, describe the signs with red and black letters installed on the roundabout: “Tobacco: + 51%”, “Increase in energy consumption prices: + 127%” or even “Fresh products: + 6.3% “.

Patrice and Carole Grassart in Caudry and at the Arc de Triomphe in 2018 and 2019.
Patrice and Carole Grassart in Caudry and at the Arc de Triomphe in 2018 and 2019 © Patrice and Carole Grassart

“We have forged privileged links”

“There are not so many roundabouts in France that have held up like that of Uzès” in the Gard, prides himself on his side Grégory Hadjopoulos, contacted by BFMTV.com.

It has been three years, almost without interruption, that this 60-year-old former socio-professional adviser, unemployed for a few months, has been running this roundabout in the small town, located about twenty kilometers north of Nîmes.

A small gathering takes place almost every Saturday at the Charettes roundabout, located next to the Carrefour shopping center. The majority of participants are retirees who are fighting for more purchasing power, deploring their modest pensions, details Grégory Hadjopoulos. “It is a pride” to have to bring these people together during all this time, continues this resident of Uzès.

The yellow vests of Uzès having lunch together on a roundabout in the Gard.
The yellow vests of Uzès having lunch together on a roundabout in the Gard. © Grégory Hadjopoulos

“It has become the family,” says Grégory Hadjopoulos. “We are a nucleus of a dozen very close people. At the beginning, we hardly knew each other or hardly knew each other. But on the roundabouts, we forged privileged links, each time we are happy to meet again. Now with some we see each other in a private setting, we go on vacation together “.

For the three years of the mobilization, a new “little shared moment” is planned at the traditional crossroads of the city this Wednesday morning. “Our good humor and our determination are intact”, warns Grégory Hadjopoulos on the leaflet. On the program, “drinks, meals from the bag, exchanges, solidarity and fraternity”, in the words of the organizer, who is only waiting for “a small committee” for the occasion. The most motivated will join in the course of the afternoon a larger gathering planned in Montpellier.

“There remains a hard core”

If he regrets that “the movement is a little exhausted” in recent months, he believes that “it was in the order of things”. “Despite everything, it changed things,” he firmly defends. “It made it possible to mobilize people who had never mobilized until then, and the most obvious is that even today, three years later, there remains a hard core of people. major political parties, they are still struggling to bring together and interest voters. “

“Since 2018, the situation has worsened”, also considers Grégory Hadjopoulos. “Today, our struggles are more precise: we see that many people cannot live decently while they work. We are attacking inflation and purchasing power, pension reform and unemployment “, he develops, before launching, weary:” In any case, it has become impossible to live decently with the policies that are being carried out … “

Many demonstrations were planned in recent days and especially last weekend for the three years of the mobilization, as in Abbeville or Soissons. In some French cities, the gathering is held on the anniversary date this Wednesday: this is the case in Paris, Lille, Nice, or even Metz. But on Saturday, other gatherings are also expected everywhere in France: as in Brest, Bastia, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Chambéry, or even Limoges.

Jeanne Bulant BFMTV reporter