For well over a year, France's yellow vest activists have been making full use of their constitutionally enshrined right to protest against the economic policies of President Emmanuel Macron - most recently in support of a trade union standoff with the government over pension reform proposals.
But the often uncompromising response of the authorities during some of those demonstrations - in which thousands of protesters and police officers have been injured - has raised disturbing questions about the appropriate degree of force to use in maintaining public order.
Juliana Ruhfus has been to investigate claims that increasingly paramilitary-style law enforcement techniques - including the use of riot control weapons that can seriously injure those on the receiving end - are threatening to undermine France's democratic principles.
- Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe
- Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish
- Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera
- Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/