Protesting is in French culture, but this Frenchman goes too far: “I’ve already taken part in about 1,000 protest marches” | outside

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Rede has been flying his large colorful banners at almost every street protest for more than ten years. In doing so, he embodies France’s enduring passion for demonstrations. The New York Times got a chance to speak to the protest legend: “Protesting is my passion and my main goal in life.”

In recent weeks, one demonstration has almost played out against another in our southern neighbours. Trade unionists lead rallies and demonstrators shout fiery slogans. Clashes with the police also broke out here and there. France has a long tradition of parading, and many French people have carried a banner more than once. However, there are not many people who go as far as Jean-Baptiste Rede.

Reddy gave up his job as a teacher ten years ago and devoted himself almost full time to protest. “This is what rules my life,” he said in a recent interview with The New York Times. “Pretending is how I feel best and where I find purpose.”

These days, France is in turmoil over the government’s plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 as part of a pension reform. By allowing residents to work longer, they hope they will be able to continue to pay pensions. But Reddy disagrees, because his label also says: “Taxing the rich in the country would be more effective.


His signature paintings became visible. It surfaced after the government tried to raise the gas tax. They have appeared at rallies for women’s rights. They made Monsieur Redet a hero in the French demonstrations. It’s “Where’s Wally?” which always appear at every protest.

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It is estimated that more than 1,000 protests may have been attended. “Pretending is like loving,” Reddy told the New York Times, “You don’t count.”

The son of an English teacher and a stay-at-home mother, Reddy grew up during the uprisings of May 1968. It wasn’t long before he joined the petitions against grades as a student. With a college degree in English and a passion for poetry, he became a primary school teacher in the late 1970s. Then he participated in the first street protest against changes in the education system.

“Sympathy for everything”

“I feel empathy for everything, people and animals. I’m kind of like a sponge,” Reddy says, “so I explain it to you.”

Government figures indicate that Paris organizes about five demonstrations a day. French sociologist Olivier Filiol says the country’s “protest culture” is rooted in a long history of centralized state power that left little room for collective bargaining. This made the street the best avenue for change.

Some of France’s most important social achievements were achieved through mass protests, including the right to paid leave in the 1930s. In schools, children study the greatest social movements that shook the country, making protests an inevitable part of every French citizen’s life. However, there is hardly anyone associated with the protest like Reddy and his colorful banners.

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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