May Day protest marred by violence (VIDEOS) — Analysis

Black-clad anarchists clashed with police and smashed storefronts as France’s annual day of left-wing protest turned violent

Marchers thronged Paris streets on Sunday in support of May Day. It is an annual demonstration of socialists and unions. With masked ‘black bloc’ anarchists among the crowd, violence and vandalism soon followed.

The French capital was surrounded by water cannons and armored vehicles, with at least 5,000 officers on the streets. This year’s protests came a week after French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected, and with around 250 demonstrations planned in the city alone, trade union boss Philippe Martinez called on citizens to “take to the streets”Make the Protests “as massive as possible.” 

Leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon called on his followers to oppose Macron’s planned pension reforms, and marchers held banners decrying the centrist president’s plans to raise the retirement age to 65. 

Groups dressed in black, wearing masks, soon clashed with the police amid peaceful marches. Video footage captured officers attacking suspects and bringing them to their knees. Another clip featured heavily armored officers charging demonstrators who had pelted them in the face with projectiles.

Rioters smashed a McDonald’s, before police arrived to protect the restaurant, and other businesses – including banks, insurance firms, and at least one real estate office – were also targeted.

Protesters set fire to barricades and piled trash and building materials in the streets. Some fires released black smoke, which caused choking cloud formations in the atmosphere.

Unknown is the number of people who have been detained so far. A number of French cities have seen protests, such as Lille and Nantes. 

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