May Day demonstrators clash with police in France as workers protest Macron’s bill to raise retirement age


PARIS — Workers across France clashed with police at hundreds of International Workers’ Day demonstrations to protest a pension reform bill that raised President Emmanuel Macron’s retirement age.

President Macron signed into law last month raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, despite months of strikes against the bill. Trade unions remain outraged by the change, urging workers to take to the streets on May Day to express their grievances.

“This is wrong. The government says we need money to pay our pensions…but we have money. There are a lot of rich people in France.”

“The money is here. You just take it,” he added. “But Macron is a friend of the rich and criticizes real people.”

Skirmishes between protesters and police intensified particularly in Paris and Lyon. Protesters set fire to ride-share bicycles, threw Molotov cocktails and small Molotov cocktails in the capital, and set cars on fire in Lyon, Reuters reported. In one instance, a police vest caught fire.

Paris authorities said they had extinguished a fire in a building on Place de la Nation, the square famous for hosting the most active guillotine during the French Revolution.

Many alleged black bloc agitators were involved in increasing violence, including vandalizing banks and business windows in numerous cities.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced at dawn that 291 people had been arrested across France, with 90 in Paris.

Throughout the day, police used tear gas and brandished riot shields and batons to disperse the crowd. Video of the protest shows police aggressively flogging protesters with batons. More than 5,000 police lined the streets of the French capital, according to Paris police chief Laurent Nunez. Across France he was stationed with over 12,000 men.

The Street Medic Observatory, a group that works with protesters, said it confirmed 200 people were injured and more than 2,000 tear gas decontaminations had been carried out. It said 30 people were seriously injured and had to be evacuated from the protest.

French police also used drones to film demonstrators, which some activists said could be an invasion of privacy, according to the Associated Press.

Not all protests turned violent. Throughout Paris, protesters sang, participated in choreographed dances and chanted in a celebratory manner. I was.

France’s main trade union, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), said it estimated there were more than 300 protests across the country. About 1.3 million people were expected to take to the streets before the protests began.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the clashes detracted from the day’s points.

“In many French cities, this May Day was a moment of responsible mobilization and dedication, which makes the scenes of violence by the protesters all the more unacceptable.” she wrote on twitter“Please support our law enforcement.”

France wasn’t the only country where workers took to the streets of Asia and Europe to celebrate May Day, experiencing frustration and demands for economic justice, according to the Associated Press.

Marches were also seen in South Korea, Spain, Lebanon and Germany, while French police fought protesters, the news agency reported. Celebrations in Pakistan and Turkey were marked by political tensions.

Nancy Ing and Mark Smith report from Paris. Phil McCausland reports from New York.

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