black bloc yellow vests
© Martin Bureau / AFP
After a year of being igored, the Yellow Vest protests are becoming more violent
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner argued that the "original" Yellow Vest movement was overtaken by the violent 'ultra-yellow' protesters, as the massive anti-government rallies across France reached their first anniversary.

The minister's statement followed a tweet by left-wing lawmaker Jean-Luc Melenchon, who blamed police for behaving like "a government militia" and causing chaos on the streets during the protest rallies.

Castaner, in turn, blasted "barbaric" Yellow Vests for attacking police officers and preventing firefighters from putting out the fires started by the demonstrators on the makeshift barricades and parked vehicles in downtown Paris on Saturday.
We saw few protesters... but also morons, bullies and thugs.
Appearing on French TV, he said that the protesters have been voicing "legitimate demands for democratic and social justice," but their rallies became regularly marred by violence carried out by the "ultra-left and ultra-yellow radicals."

"The original Yellow Vest movement is an expression of deep anger that we have to hear and answer to. At the same time, there is this violence that has become connected with the movement," Castaner told reporters.

Comment: The protests are over a year old and show no signs of abating, because the French government has neither heard nor answered. And Castaner wonders why the ante has been upped

Sunday marked a year since the start of the nationwide anti-government protests in France. The demonstrations were initially launched against government-planned fuel price hikes. Authorities later dropped their plans but people on the streets rallied further, calling for broader social reforms.

The rallies frequently descended into fierce clashes with police and rioting in Paris, as well as other major cities. While the government condemned the acts of vandalism, the protesters have slammed police brutality, as many of them were injured and dozens lost eyesight from rubber bullets.

Castaner's belligerent tone will likely add fuel to the Yellow Vests' longtime complaints that the government officials have been condescending and dismissive towards them.

Last week, Prime Minister Eduard Philippe drew criticism after calling gang-related rioters in a commune outside Paris a "small gang of imbeciles."

The opposition politicians argued that the government uses this type of rhetoric to downplay its failure to maintain law and order crime-infested areas.