May Day riots, protests in Paris

rioters in Paris on May Day

Screenshot of May Day rioters in Paris

Police fired tear gas to push back black-clad anarchists who ransacked business premises in the French capital Paris on Sunday during May Day protests against the policies of newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron.

Thousands of people joined May Day marches across France in which they called for salary increases and for Macron to drop his plan to raise the retirement age.

Most were peaceful but violence broke out in Paris, where police had made 29 arrests so far, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter.

Clashes with police broke out at the start of the march near La Republique Square and when it reached La Nation Square in eastern Paris.

“Black Bloc” anarchists ransacked a McDonald’s restaurant on the Place Leon Blum and trashed several real estate agencies, breaking their windows and setting garbage bins on fire.

Police said activists had even attacked firemen, trying to put out fires. Police responded by firing tear gas.

About 250 rallies were organised in Paris and other cities including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille. In the capital, trade unionists were joined by political figures – mostly from the left – and climate activists.

The cost of living was the main theme in the presidential election campaign and looks set to be equally prominent ahead of June legislative elections that Macron’s party and its allies must win if he is to be able to implement his pro-business policies, including increasing retirement age to 65 for 62

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Joshua Antunes, a 19-year-old student said: “It is important to show Macron and the whole political world that we are prepared to defend our social rights,”. He also criticised the president’s “inactivity” on environment issues.

Marchers carried banners reading “Retirement Before Arthritis”, “Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices” and “Macron, Get Out”

“The government has got to deal with the purchasing power problem by raising wages,” Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told Reuters before the rallies. read more

Macron won a new five-year presidential term after beating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in last Sunday’s runoff vote.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential vote, was attended the Paris march.

He wants to rally a union of the left, including the Greens, to dominate parliament and force Macron into an awkward “cohabitation” but so far this has not materialised. read more

“We will not make a single concession on pensions,” Melenchon said before the march started.


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