“I became + yellow vest + because I want to live and not just survive. I believe in it”: three years after the start of this protest in France, Myriam Fabregat, a nursery school worker, does not miss any mobilization Saturday on a Montpellier roundabout.
On this afternoon in mid-November, she joined a handful of other “yellow vests” who wave flags, sing and call out to motorists on the Prés d’Arènes roundabout in Montpellier. Support horns sound regularly. The sun is shy, the atmosphere happy.
In this city, the movement that shook France between 2018 and 2019 was one of the most followed.
On a median, a large yellow banner hanging between two posts sets the tone for the President of the Republic: “Macron and his laws outside”. In front, a thermos of coffee and cookies have been placed on the waxed tablecloth of a small table.
Discreet despite her imposing “homemade” yellow flag, Myriam tells us why she continues to come, despite the lack of momentum in mobilization at the national level.
“I need it, it’s vital, I want people to wake up,” says the one who, at 59, has been working as a specialist in nursery schools (Atsem) for more than twenty years.
“Three years later, I still have difficult ends of the month. I have trouble sleeping. I fight for my salary, for my rights at work, for my children. I believe in it, I want to believe it”, she says.
“Our fight has not changed. Our demands are the same as three years ago. Simply, they have been reinforced”, explains Sabrine Raynaud, a teacher in Montpellier and “yellow vest” from the start.
– “We’re still here” –
Among the demands, the price of fuel which was the spark of the mobilization in 2018 is no longer cited. “We want Macron’s resignation, the satisfaction of the needs of the population in terms of health, education and justice, that all have an income to live, and not to survive. We want a real democracy and not a sham” , lists Sabine Raynaud.
Standing, balanced on a concrete slide, Adrien, farmer, makes a yellow flag dance at arm’s length, a little patched up, stamped “Prés d’Arènes”.
“It is old this flag. He made all the demonstrations, like me”, jokes the sixty-year-old, interrupted by vigorous blasts of the horns. “Thanks and keep going!” A driver shouts through his window. Galvanized, the small group nods.
If the number of yellow vests on this roundabout has waned in three years, they believe that their movement has not stopped, and has been partly transferred to the demonstrations against the health pass.
“I know that the + yellow vests + are not going to overthrow the system”, relativizes Gilbert Rigal, retired, “but our movement has clearly triggered something. There will inevitably be other consequences, given what falls on the + small people + “.
Myriam, Gilbert, Sabine, Richard, Adrien… All of them describe the family spirit that reigns on the roundabouts. “Fraternity is essential. This is also what keeps us going,” says Sabine Raynaud.
On November 20, debates and concerts are scheduled to mark the three years of the movement. Richard Abauzit, former labor inspector, emblematic figure of the roundabout, “expects this anniversary to be a rebound for the future”.
“After three years, even if there are fewer of us, we are still here. It will start again and we will eventually get there,” he believes.
“What we can regret are the difficulties in organizing the movement at the national level,” emphasizes Sabine Raynaud. “But we are evolving. We have learned to organize collectively, to conduct meetings, general assemblies and to communicate with the media. We are a political movement,” she insists.
Night is falling. Traffic jams are intensifying. Unwavering in their fluorescent vests flocked with slogans, the members of the Prés d’Arènes roundabout begin yet another song: “We are there, we are there, we will stay there”.