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For over a month now, the gilets jaunes or Yellow Vests, a popular uprising in France that started in response to a gas tax, has captured international attention. Protests have been violent, with police often firing less-lethal munitions at demonstrators. Like the Arab Spring and Occupy movements before it, the Yellow Vests have spread across the globe. Examples include Yellow Vests protesting high unemployment in Iraq, high living costs in Israel, and Egypt has banned the sale of hi-vis safety vests out of fear of an uprising.
And now it’s coming to the United States.
Tomorrow, a nationwide “YellowVest Movement American Action” is taking place. The event seems to be coordinated in part by the same people who organized the May Day Anonymous March, though an American Yellow Vests (AYV) page seems to also be organizing.
The AYV Facebook page says they are a “nonpolitical peoples movement” who “aim to remove corruption in all areas and maintain and perfect our system of governance so it operates for the people and not the interests of the 1%.” They claim they have “strict adherence to nonviolence.”
The AYV Facebook group appears to be linked to the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) movement based around the ideas of University of Newcastle, New South Wales Economics professor Bill Mitchell. Many of the AYV posts promote MMT ideas. MMT economics are premised on the idea that governments spend money into existence and destroy it through taxes. MMT activists argue for policies like the federal job guarantee. They often try to frame their arguments outside of left versus right political dynamics.
The gilets jaunes protests in France and abroad aren’t organized strictly along left/right lines. They’re broad working class responses to dissatisfaction with the way centrist governments like Emmanuel Macron’s craft policies. The yellow vests in France demand less taxes, more subsidies for hiring young people, and ending austerity politics–the style of governing associated with neo-Liberalism and the Washington Consensus. Under austerity, government spending, usually first on social welfare programs, is reduced and taxes are hiked so government budget deficits can be reduced.
One event in Sacramento for tomorrow organized by AYV starts at 10am but doesn’t give a meeting point. The other two events are in San Diego at an unspecified location and at the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles.
According to an Instagram account called @Yellow_vest_america, the protest tomorrow may be at Sacramento City Hall.
Boston area-based Resist Marxism, an organization started by Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman of Proud Boys and Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights fame, posted a list of Yellow Vest protests happening tomorrow on its Facebook page.
“We’re co-opting the Boston protest, wouldn’t be surprised if we’re the only ones there,” the group’s account commented on the post.
This isn’t the first time far right organizers have tried to adopt the yellow vest for their own causes. Haley Adams, an associate of the Pacific Northwest’s Patriot Prayer, began wearing a high-visibility vest to her events this month. One of the YVA events tomorrow is slated for Portland City Hall.
It’s unclear who runs the Instagram account that Resist Marxism sourced the image from or if they’re tied to the AYV Facebook page. Today, the AYV Facebook page linked to the same image as Resist Marxism. The Instagram account is clearly run by someone who gives credence to far-right conspiracies.
The first post on the account was five days ago. It depicts the back of a yellow vest with a pair of scissors stabbing an Eye of Providence. The caption on the picture rants about how global warming is a “fraudulent narrative” and claims the protests in France are “anti-New World Order” and against “open borders and droves of Arabs being brought into their country by their traitorous leaders.”
Another picture of the French protests is captioned “Guess who doesn’t fluoridate their water? France,” referring to fluoride-in-the-water conspiracies made popular in part by Alex Jones.
Number 15 in the ‘Demands’ section on the Instagram page says “Award the right of vaccine exception to every American citizen, period.”
This story will be updated.