The first tear gas always provokes the most dramatic symptoms - I imagine it is because your body is telling you, "What the hell is this you're inhaling now? Get it out of here." Your skin burns more, you are expectorating excessively via the mouth and nose, your heart rate is elevated well after the "conflict adrenaline" has worn off. The next gassings are much easier, provided you are not at ground zero of course.
I have taken so much tear gas in "the birthplace of human rights" I wonder just how much poison I have built up in my bloodstream? I wonder if I can sue the French government for creating a hazardous work environment after organ failure from cyanide poisoning? Probably not.
Tear gas was falling from the skies regularly, and especially loud Yellow Vests were being individually targeted for violent arrest, but for whatever reasons - programming, shift change, etc. - after my 12pm live interview PressTV didn't want another interview until 2pm. Being the die-hard activist journalist me and my cameramen are, we went on lunch break.
Hey, we gotta eat sometime. We're workers, and Macron hasn't revoked our right to a lunch break yet. And we can't be there for every gassing/beating/rubber bullet - it's not possible; furthermore, if we, did eventually our time would come and then there'd be no more reports at all. Gotta play the long game.
By the time we returned the Champs the crowds had really thinned out, after looking like there would be enough to hold it all day. Cops were being totally brutal: gas, confuse and punish, push people off the Champs, and then don't allowing them back in, thus locking down the world's greatest mall/boulevard. But we had an interview scheduled, so we stuck around with the perhaps 500 die-harders still hoping unionists, climate changers and Black Bloc would show up to retake this iconic mall-evard from the hated regime.
So we go live and do our interview, and we probably contributed to the violence. This is what often happens: The Yellow Vests know they're on TV all of a sudden, cuz some monkey with a microphone is yammering in front of a camera, and they want to represent. They get loud and rowdy. In this way the presence of journalists hypes up the crowd in a way similar to, but actually very different, the presence of hyper-armed cops agitates a crowd. For political protesters journalist coverage is a sign that they matter and that they are doing something right and worthy of comment: that's what makes it so sad that my French media colleagues are never covering the Yellow Vests - if they were, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people would join the protests again. Of course, the vast police repression since late March is the main reason the average Frenchmen isn't showing up.
We finish live French protest interview #481 (I truly and humbly contend that no journalist in France has covered as many demonstrations as I have in the past decade - that number I gave is my honest estimate) and the little crowd is back to being the Yellow Vest engine that could.
Heartwarming" let's get out of here. And we left because we had to go find another demonstration to cover - newsroom bosses want you to be where the action is, and there was a huge climate change protest there. Frankly, and sadly, I think much of the crowd had dissipated because they wanted to go join the eco-nuts, who are have as much backbone for a political fight as tofu.
Why was I going to the climate change protest and not the union demonstration? Because only one of the nine major unions ultimately decided to demonstrate that day - total betrayal of a day which was supposed to be so huge, but that's the "virtue" of "independent" trade unions, right?
As we are leaving and I take one last look and - the tear gas is flying again. Of course it was: cops fear rowdy protesters whom they haven't totally beaten into silence and submission, thus - launch some more gas.
Nothing we can do for ya, Vesters. We gotta think of where the action will be 45 minutes from now, and y'all had been kettled (boxed in by cops) and y'all knew they were going to gas you, drive you out and put the Champs on lockdown and if ya didn't know then now ya know.
What teases we journalists are! Get 'em all excited, and then leave 'em in their moment of need. Don't blame me, lady - blame the system.
The alternative hypothesis is that the cops saw that the only camera-wielding journalists around were leaving, and that the coast was clear for more gassing. Then it is still our presence which provoked it, and more shame on my well-heeled French media colleagues for not being there.
The final hypothesis is that the cops were about to gas them anyway and the timing of our leaving was purely coincidental. That is certainly mathematically logical, given the rates of tear gassing by French cops on Saturdays.
Regardless, that was an interesting anecdote which proves the journalistic corollary to quantum mechanics - the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. Again, what would the effects be if the French media were actually there? Or even journalists from Time?
The eco-kooks: fake-leftist politics at its most pathetic