This week, hundreds of protesters joined the 17th week of Yellow Vest demonstrations in the French village of Tarbes, as tens of thousands more marched throughout the country. During the demonstrations in Tarbes, a group of protesters began shouting that they were planning to march on a nearby Masonic temple.
A crowd of protesters used a battering ram to break through the heavy door of the lodge, as others pelted rocks at the building. Protesters destroyed everything in sight, overturning furniture and destroying expensive art after breaking into the building.
— Ulysse Paris (@ulyssepariser) March 10, 2019
French officials immediately condemned the attack with some going so far as to call it a hate crime.
France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner suggested that the attacks were related to anti-semitism.
“After the Jews, the Freemasons. When stupidity encounters intolerance, it is the worst.”
Castaner went on to accuse the Yellow Vest protesters of having “no other project than hatred.”
Après les juifs, les francs-maçons…
Quand la bêtise rivalise avec l’intolérance la plus crasse.
Je salue l’intervention rapide de la @PoliceNationale qui a mis fin aux exactions de ces individus qui n’ont d’autre projet que la haine.
Ne lâchons rien.https://t.co/ytr2YGqfZ0
— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) March 10, 2019
However, despite accusations of anti-semitism, there was no indication that the protesters were affiliated with neo-nazi or white supremacist groups.
In a press release, the Grande Loge Mixte de France called the vandalism “unspeakable acts that are part of a context of surreptitious threats and hate speech against Freemasons”.
“The fight must be even more ardent against all that contributes to erode the social pact: questioning values and republican principles, social regressions, precariousness, withdrawal and communitarian drifts,” the statement continued.
A lodge representative told reporters that they will be taking extra security measures to prevent break-ins from occurring in the future.
“I can only denounce this degradation. We’ve had projectiles already, but this is the first time anyone has come back to vandalize. There is material damage, degraded furniture, broken windows, the sound system torn off, theft, breakage, traces of black paint. We will have to secure our premises more importantly,” he said.
Below is a video taken at the scene showing the extent of the damage:
Yellow Vest protesters have not been afraid to take drastic measures against the government. Not long after the protests began, the BBC reported that protesters had destroyed more than half of the speed tracking cameras in France. As The Mind Unleashed reported last week, some protesters have even been hurling home-made “poo bombs” at police during recent demonstrations.
Demonstrations have reduced in size from the early protests, where over 300,000 people marched, with recent numbers falling below 50,000. The lower attendance is likely the result of infighting between protesters who are having a hard time agreeing on policy demands thanks to the diversity of the movement and its ability to attract people from both the left and the right.
Eleven people have died since the protests began, with most having died at the hands of police.