At least 108 police injured and 291 held in May Day protests in cities across France

Teargas fired amid clashes as unions turn traditional marches into anti-government protest against pension reform

By Angelique Chrisafis
May 2, 2023

French police fired teargas and clashed with demonstrators in Paris and other cities on Monday after trade unions transformed their traditional Labour Day marches into anti-government demonstrations against the rise in the retirement age.

At least 108 police were wounded and 291 people detained across France as violence erupted in several cities on the sidelines of the main union-led marches, the interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said. In Paris, 25 police were injured and 111 people were detained. One police officer suffered serious burns to his hands and face after being hit by a petrol bomb, he said.

Darmanin condemned protesters he described as being from the far-left, known as “black blocs”, saying they numbered around 2,000 in Paris and another 1,000 in the southeastern city of Lyon. He urged that “those who attacked the police and public property be severely punished”.

The prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, praised the earlier marches and said the responsible attitude shown earlier made the violence “all the more unacceptable”.

In Paris, the trade union-led demonstration began peacefully with many families joining in, holding banners calling for social justice and demanding Macron resign or withdraw his law to raise the minimum eligible pension age from 62 to 64.

But on the edges of the march as it passed through Paris’s 11th arrondissement, police fired teargas and clashed with groups of young men dressed in black. Projectiles, bins and petrol bombs were thrown at police.

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