France: fights and arrests in Paris, as thousands mark the first of May Coronavirus pandemic news


Dozens detained in Paris where protesters burned rubbish bins and broke bank windows.

Hooded and black-clad protesters clashed with police in Paris as thousands rallied in traditional May Day protests across France to demand social and economic justice and express opposition to government plans to change benefits for unemployment.

Police arrested 34 people on Saturday in the capital, where rubbish was burned and the windows of a bank branch were broken, which momentarily delayed the march. Authorities also reported five arrests and 27 police officers injured in Lyon. But most of the dozens of marches in France passed without incident.

The unionists were joined by members of the Yellow Jacket movement, which sparked a wave of anti-government protests three years ago, and by workers in sectors affected by pandemic restrictions such as culture.

The merchants, most of whom wore masks in accordance with the rules of the coronavirus, carried banners that said, “Dividends, not unemployment benefits are the income of lazy people” and “We want to live, not survive.”

“As for the people who have taken to the streets, there have been a number of problems and causes; from climate change to people who think the government has not done enough during the pandemic to unions demanding better wages and better working conditions, “said Natacha Butler of Al Jazeera, reporting from Paris.

A pensioner who gave her name Patricia to the AFP news agency said: “There are so many motivations for a revolt that are accumulating: the management of COVID, the so-called reforms that will eliminate the ability to live people, jobs – seekers who will lose their profits “.

“We absolutely need to express ourselves,” the 66-year-old said.

Protesters clash with police during the May Day annual rally in Paris [Alain Jocard/AFP]

The Police Headquarters, which deployed 5,000 officers in Paris, said it had prevented “Black Bloc” anarchists from forming a group.

“There will be a lot of money for those who have a lot and less for those who have nothing, as reflected in the unemployment insurance reform plan we want to undo,” said Philippe Martinez, head of the union CGT.

Nearly 300 rallies were organized in cities such as Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Toulouse.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who plan to challenge President Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential election, attended the May Day events.

“My wish for the working class is that I can be free from the fear of being unemployed,” Melenchon said at a march in Lille, adding that he hoped to return to the northern city as president. .

Le Pen, who had previously laid a wreath in Paris at the statue of John of Arc, a nationalist symbol of his party, warned of “total chaos” if Macron is re-elected.

Macron, the former investment banker who won the presidency in 2017 promising a new way of doing politics, has seen his reform agenda sink into union fights, while the pandemic has halted its review provided for in the pension system.

France, which has the eighth highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, will begin rolling out its third pandemic blockade restrictions starting Monday after falling infection rates.

A protester throws a stick at a damaged bank in Paris [Bertrand Guay/AFP]

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