Hundreds of Beirutis and other residents of Lebanon Sunday organized their own version of the “yellow vest” protests that began in Paris, and armed riot police and soldiers responded by clamping down violently on demonstrators and journalists alike.
Soldiers nearby observed the crowd, and four or five armored vehicles parked across from Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, though they did not clash with protesters.
Events slowly took a turn, though, around 2 p.m., when a group of about 50 demonstrators gathered under the Fouad Chehab Bridge.
Soon after, additional demonstrators, along with riot police and soldiers in armored vehicles, arrived to manage the situation, enflaming tensions. A standoff between armed soldiers and demonstrators turned violent when the soldiers beat unarmed civilians with batons.
By 2:30 p.m., about 600 demonstrators chanting “Revolution!” made their way up Bechara al-Khoury to south Beirut’s Ras al-Nabeh.
Over 25 armed military vehicles, the majority resembling tanks with machines guns installed above, followed the protesters, who were unarmed, and the soldiers intermittently beat them up.
As a crowd of about 400 people made its way down Hamra, a number of Army vehicles followed, some facing off against protesters, others negotiating with the crowd and still others using blunt force to put an end to the demonstration.