Workers have been staging protests against the president’s reform policy in Paris for four months. Suddenly, the protest rallies turned violent on May Day as hundreds of protesters ran amok in the French capital, torching restaurants, cars and bus stops.
The French media reported that around 1,200 hooded, black-clad anti-capitalists – popularly known as ‘Black bloc’ – hijacked the march for workers’ rights on the historic day and disrupted the normal life. Shouting “Rise up, Paris”, “Everyone hates the police”, and “Macron puts us in a black rage”, the protesters also hurled patrol bombs at police vehicles.
A senior police officer said that they didn’t use ‘force’ against the protesters because such a move could claim many innocent lives. Paris Police Chief Michel Delpuech told the press that the masked men targeted the police when they were asked to maintain ‘peace’.
In France, trade unions organise huge rallies every year on the May Day. This year, they informed the police that around 12,000 workers would join the rallies. However, some people – holding Soviet flags – ransacked shops and torched cars. “Even with 21 police units mobilised, we cannot keep up with movements that appear all of a sudden on a scale we’ve never seen before,” stressed Delpuech. He also said that hooligans prompted the police to use tear gas.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who was on a visit to Sydney, condemned the attack on police, saying: “May 1 is Workers’ Day, not the day of the hooligans.” Meanwhile, his Interior Minister Gérard Collomb assured people that the government would send more police to future gatherings. “For the next demonstrations, there will be even more security forces, this time with the intention of totally separating protesters from those who have come to smash things up,” insisted the minister.
According to political analysts, Black bloc – the ultra-radical and highly mobilised leftwing group – is fully prepared to create troubles for the Macron administration in the coming days. The group – often associated with anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, anti-fascism and anarchism – is trying to take advantage of the current political situation in France, where the trade unions are not happy with the president’s plans to liberalise labour regulations.
Railway workers in the European nation have already launched nationwide rolling strikes, protesting the government’s decision to overhaul of state-run railway SNCF. Now, the May Day protests have sent a strong message to the government: Macron’s economic policies fail to please the French people. Earlier, President Macron made it clear that he would not back down on his reform agenda. Perhaps, he will reassess his policies after the latest violence in Paris.
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