Violence takes over May 1 protests

Traditional May 1 trade union march in Paris

Traditional May 1 trade union march in Paris

Photo: Reproduction / Reuters

Police fired tear gas to repel black-clad anarchists who looted shops in Paris, France, on Sunday during May 1 protests against the policies of newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron.

Thousands of people joined May 1 marches across France, in which they called for salary increases and urged Macron to abandon his plan to raise the minimum retirement age.

Most of the protests were peaceful, but violence erupted in Paris, at the beginning of the demonstration near La Republique square, and when it reached La Nation square, in the east of the country.

Black bloc-style anarchists looted a McDonald’s restaurant and destroyed several real estate agencies. The windows of the establishments were smashed and garbage cans were set on fire. Police said activists even attacked firefighters trying to put out the fires. The police then responded by firing tear gas.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that these acts of violence in Paris “are not acceptable”.

About 250 demonstrations were organized in Paris and other cities, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille. In the capital, unionists joined political figures – mainly on the left – and climate activists.

The cost of living was the main theme of the presidential campaign and appears to be equally prominent for next June’s legislative elections, which Macron’s party and its allies need to win before he can implement his pro-market agenda, including increasing retirement age from 62 to 65.

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