French police clash with anarchists at May Day protests

French police clash with anarchists at May Day protests

The police fired tear gas to push back black-clad anarchists who ransacked business premises in Paris on Sunday during May Day protests against the policies of newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Thousands of people gathered in May Day marches across France, calling for salary increases and for Macron to drop his plan to raise retirement age.

Most of the peaceful protesters were peaceful, but violence broke out in the capital, where police arrested 54 people, including a woman who attacked a fireman trying to put out a fire, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter. He added that eight police were injured.

Clashes with police broke out at the beginning of the march near La Republique Square and when it reached La Nation Square in eastern Paris.

Black Bloc anarchists sacked a McDonald's restaurant on Place Leon Blum and trashed several real estate agencies, breaking windows and setting garbage bins on fire.

Some 250 rallies were organized in Paris and other cities, including Lille, Nantes, Toulouse and Marseille. There were 116,500 demonstrators across the country, including 24,000 in the capital, according to the interior ministry.

Trade unionists were joined by political figures, mostly from the left, and climate activists in Paris.

Joshua Antunes, a 19 year-old student, said it is important to show Macron and the whole political world that we are prepared to defend our social rights. He accused the president of inactivity on environmental issues.

Marchers carried banners reading Retirement Before Arthritis, Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices and Macron, Get Out. Before the rally, Philippe Martinez, head of the hard-line CGT union, said the government had to deal with the purchasing power problem by raising wages.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, the leader of far-left, came third in the first round of the presidential election, attended the Paris march.

He wants to bring together a union of the left, including the Greens, to dominate parliament and force Macron into an awkward cohabitation, but so far this has not materialized.

Before the march started, Melenchon said we will not make a single concession on pensions.

He said he still hopes an agreement to build a new union of the left could be reached by Sunday evening.

Marine Le Pen did not lay a wreath at the statue of Joan or Arc in Paris in previous years, which her party uses as a nationalist symbol. She was replaced by the Rassemblement National Interim President Jordan Bardella, who said Le Pen was preparing for the legislative elections.

Le Pen urged voters to elect as many deputies from her party in June so that they could protect their purchasing power and prevent Macron from carrying a harmful project for France and the French people. The parliamentary elections will be held on June 12 and 19.