May Day riots: 109 remain in custody in France

Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

 

French police are holding 109 people – a day after masked demonstrators smashed shop windows and torched cars during May Day protests.

Far-left anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs, hijacked a peaceful rally against President Emmanuel Macron’s public sector labour reforms.

Police said about 1,200 masked and hooded protesters attended the annual 1 May demonstration by labour unions.

Four people, including a police officer, were lightly wounded.

Police on Wednesday corrected an earlier figure of more than 200 arrested given out by the Interior Minister Gerard Collomb.

The protesters were swamped with teargas and sprayed with a water cannon in an effort to disperse them.

Protesters wear protective masks against tear gas in clashes with French police forces during a demonstration of workers
Protesters wear protective masks against tear gas in clashes with French police forces during a demonstration of workers

Tear gas floats around masked protesters during clashes with French CRS riot police at the May Day labour union rally in Paris, France 1 May 2018.
Tear gas floats around masked protesters during clashes with French CRS riot police at the May Day labour union rally in Paris, France 1 May 2018.

The black-clad protesters attempted to hold up the demonstration march, before smashing shop windows along the route and torching a McDonald’s near Austerlitz station.

Various vehicles and a car dealership were also set ablaze, and graffiti was scrawled on walls.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering their faces.

“When you have sincere convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked,” he said. “Those who wear hoods are the enemies of democracy.”

A protester holds the French Tricolour with an anti-Macron slogan outside a destroyed McDonald's
A protester holds the French Tricolour with an anti-Macron slogan outside a destroyed McDonald’s

Thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on 1 May 2018 in Paris, France.
Thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on 1 May 2018 in Paris, France.

There is widespread discontent in labour unions over Mr Macron’s reforms. Rail staff have begun three months of nationwide strikes over a planned overhaul of state-run railway SNCF.

Tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and other workers joined the rail staff on strike in March. The president has said he will not back down on his agenda.

Unions said the number of peaceful protesters at the main demonstration on Tuesday was about 55,000. Police put the number lower, at about 20,000.

The protest was small compared with the 223,000 people who turned out in Paris in September to protest against the planned reforms.

Pedestrians look at a destroyed McDonald's fast food restaurant after a demonstration of workers from the private and public sectors as well as labour unions on the occasion of the annual May Day
Pedestrians look at a destroyed McDonald’s near Austerlitz station

Vehicles are burning as thousands of people take to the streets during the May Day demonstrations on 1 May 2018 in Paris, France.
A torched van and scooter in central Paris
Source :

BBC

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