PARIS MAYDAY
AT THE HEART OF THE FRENCH PROTEST MOVEMENT
"I started covering protests in Paris more than three years ago. My gear was my phone and an extra battery. Today I'm wearing a helmet, a stab vest, a gas mask and goggles to protect my eyes."
This is a story about a Sputnik France journalist who has been covering the "Yellow Vests" movement since its beginning in France. Over the months of protests she has been tear-gassed, hit by flash-balls, rubber bullets and water cannons many times. She's sustained several minor injuries and a weekly dose of tear gas has affected her health. She has also been attacked by both the police and violent protesters. We have not disclosed her name nor her face for security reasons.

The 2019 May Day protest of thousands of "Yellow Vests" demonstrators was infiltrated by hooligans and extremists forming a so-called "Black Bloc". They came from all over Europe to Paris to "celebrate" Labour Day.
Normally our reporter works alone. But for this particular project, as an exception, we hired a bodyguard for her. You can see him by pivoting the video. He is guiding our reporter so she can focus on filming with two cameras simultaneously. The second camera in her right hand is live-streaming the protest for our website and social media.

During protests, tear gas and grenades are thrown randomly, so anyone can become the victim of a "stray bullet". The tear gas used by the police is so toxic that even a proper gas mask doesn't eliminate the risk of poisoning.
"I have witnessed and filmed people losing their eyes and arms to the grenades and rubber bullets used by the police. I have seen people setting houses on fire which could have easily resulted in casualties. I have seen protestors getting beaten up, including my fellow colleagues working in the field."
For more than 10 years a number of Human Rights organisations, among them Amnesty International, have been denouncing the use of flash-balls and RBLs (Rubber Bullet Launchers). In 2019, the Prefect of Paris, Eric Morvan, still considered them to be "an appropriate response to deter or neutralise a violent and/or dangerous person" and in 2020 the RBLs are still in use.

The UN has condemned French police violence and its human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on France to investigate "excessive force" against the "Yellow Vests" in her annual address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

We believe that this 360-degree video serves the cause of neutrality in journalism by allowing viewers to decide for themselves the rights and the wrongs in the ongoing conflict between citizens and the security forces in France.
"We don't take sides or place the blame. If you're covering protests in Paris today you have to be prepared to take a risk. I keep doing it because I hope my videos help people realise that there are always two sides to any conflict. During these numerous protests I have been stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea."