26 janvier 2023

Daily Impact European

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1st – May between violence and demands in Paris and France

More than a hundred thousand people marched across France on Sunday on the occasion of May Day, a mobilization on the rise in a very political context after the presidential election, and several processions were marred by incidents, in particular at Paris.

More than a hundred thousand people marched across France on Sunday on the occasion of May Day, a mobilization on the rise in a very political context after the presidential election, and several processions were marred by incidents, in particular at Paris.

The day was marked by a series of violence between thugs and police, damaged signs and street furniture. But also by claims, mainly concerning issues related to retirement and health.

The violence was mainly concentrated at the front of the procession. Several dozen black-blocks (thugs) methodically targeted symbols of capitalism: “real estate agencies, banks or fast food chains like McDonald’s. An organic store was looted. Some billboards or garbage cans were burned all the way.”

The mobilization was higher than last year in the whole of France, where the CGT claimed 210,000 demonstrators, against 170,000 last year. The Interior Ministry reported 116,500 protesters compared to 106,650 in 2021.

In the capital, the demonstration, which began around 2:30 p.m. on Place de la République, dispersed on Place de la Nation shortly after 6 p.m. The CGT claimed 50,000 demonstrators, 24,000 according to the ministry, which had counted 17,000 last year.

A firefighter, who was trying to extinguish a fire of pallets lit on the sidelines of the May 1st demonstration on Sunday in Paris, was attacked by a demonstrator, arousing the indignation of the authorities. The woman was arrested and the firefighter was not injured, said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin during a press briefing in the early evening.

Widely relayed on social networks, the fire soldier was holding his water lance in the direction of the fire, rue Alexandre-Dumas, when a demonstrator came to jostle him to prevent him from putting out the fire before hitting him twice with hand on his helmet.

These incidents led the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, to denounce “unacceptable violence” committed by “thugs”. He reported eight injured firefighters. According to an initial report from the prosecution at 7 p.m., 50 people were then in police custody in Paris.

The “parasitic” violence of May 1 “makes the unions invisible and serves as propaganda for our worst adversaries”, tweeted the leader of France Insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who attacked the prefect of police Didier Lallement, “unable to guarantee the right to demonstrate in peace” according to him.

“That’s enough! Shame on the savagery, incomprehensible this new aggression vis-à-vis the firefighters of Paris in the exercise of their functions, to protect people, property of the City and the smooth running of the event”, tweeted the Paris firefighters.

“The prefect of police strongly condemns the scandalous attack suffered by the Paris firefighters who intervened on a fire at the corner of rue Alexandre-Dumas and boulevard Voltaire”, reacted for its part the police prefecture.
“One of our military colleagues from the Paris Fire Brigade has just been hit by a demonstrator, and preventing the rescue unit engaged from putting out the fire to protect residents and property. May he be spotted and punished”, asked the president of the national federation of firefighters of France, Grégory Allione.

The union slogans were higher wages, the maintenance of public services and social protection, and an ecological transition policy.

The pension reform was also one of the points of tension of this day, a week after the re-election of Emmanuel Macron, underlined the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, for whom a new mobilization is possible as soon as “before the come back, because the level of dissatisfaction with pensions or salaries is very high”. “We are resolutely opposed […] to any form of raising the retirement age”, hammered for his part the secretary general of FO, Yves Veyrier.

In France, demonstrations have gathered 1,900 people in Bordeaux, 3,600 in Marseille, 3,500 in Toulouse, 4,000 in Lyon, 1,500 in Strasbourg or Saint-Étienne, 2,000 in Lille according to police figures. A total of 255 assembly points were planned in the country, according to the CGT.

In Rennes, after the demonstration organized in the calm in the morning (1650 people according to the prefecture), several hundred ultra-left activists played hide and seek for two hours with the police, in particular by lighting trash fires.

Damage also took place in Nantes, where the police intervened to disperse ultra-left activists, according to the prefecture. PS Mayor Johanna Rolland condemned, in a press release, “unacceptable acts of violence”.

After this violence, several arrests were made by the police. However, and it should be noted, when the procession arrived in Nation, there was no scuffle to report.

According to the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, 8 police officers, gendarmes and firefighters were injured during the Paris demonstration. Barely started, place of the Republic, tensions appeared. According to Agence France Presse, they opposed “the police forces to very mobile groups of young people dressed in black on the sidelines of the demonstration”. In all, around twenty signs were damaged or destroyed and 54 people were arrested, according to the Minister of the Interior.