Black-clad anarchists clashed with police and smashed storefronts as France’s annual day of left-wing protests turned violent
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to mark May Day, an annual day of protest by socialists and trade unions. With masked “black bloc” anarchists among the crowd, violence and vandalism quickly followed.
At least 5,000 police have been deployed in the streets of the French capital, supported by armored vehicles and water cannons. This year’s protests came a week after French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected, and with around 250 protests planned in the city alone, union boss Philippe Martinez called on citizens to ” go out in the street “ and protest “as massive as possible.”
Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon called on his supporters to oppose Macron’s planned pension reforms, and protesters held up banners decrying the centrist president’s plans to raise the retirement age to 65.
Amid crowds of peaceful marchers, groups dressed in black and wearing face masks quickly clashed with police. Tear gas was fired and video footage showed officers tackling suspects to the ground, while another clip showed a group of heavily armored officers charging at protesters who pelted them with projectiles.
Rioters destroyed a McDonald’s, before police arrived to protect the restaurant, and other businesses – including banks, insurance companies and at least one real estate agency – were also targeted.
— Clement Lanot (@ClementLanot) May 1, 2022
The demonstrators piled construction materials and rubbish in the streets, before setting fire to these barricades. Some of the fires sent choking clouds of black smoke into the air.
It is not known how many people have been arrested so far. Demonstrations also took place in several French cities, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille.
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