French police use tear gas to stop May Day protests

French police use tear gas to stop May Day protests

Demonstrators walk with a banner next to garbage and materials that were put on fire during a May Day demonstration from Republique, Bastille to Nation, in Paris, France, on May 1, 2022. LEWIS JOLY AP police used tear gas to stop protests in Paris that broke out on Sunday, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in France and other European countries to mark International Workers' Day, also known as May Day.

In Paris and other French cities, demonstrators demanded higher wages, support for public services and more climate-friendly policies, and they urged the government to drop its plan to raise retirement age. Many were directing their anger at the policies of President Emmanuel Macron, who won re-election for a further five years just a week ago.

While most of the demonstrations were peaceful, clashes between police and some young protesters broke out of the black vandalized business properties, including a McDonald's branch, banks, insurance companies and real estate agencies, and set garbage bins on fire.

Police arrested 54 protesters, including a woman who attacked a firefighter trying to extinguish a blaze. According to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, eight police were injured.

On Sunday, Darmanin said on Twitter that thugs were committing unacceptable violence and he expressed his full support for police.

Around 116,500 people took part in the 250 rallies in the French capital and cities such as Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Lille. The number was estimated at 24,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.

The cost of living, which sparked the huge Yellow Vest movement in late 2018, remained a major issue in Sunday's protest and last month's French presidential election. Inflation in France reached 4.8 percent in April, according to estimates released by the national statistics office on Friday. The plan to raise retirement age from 62 to 65 has been met with strong opposition.

Freeze Prices, Retirement Before Arthritis and Retirement at 60, were some of the banners carried by the demonstrators in Paris.

Before the demonstration started on Sunday, Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the far-left La France Insoumise group, or LFI, said we will not make a single concession on pensions. Melenchon, who finished third in the first round of the presidential election on April 10, has been rallying supporters to win more seats in the parliamentary elections from June 12 -- 19.

May Day is a good time to rally for a reduction in working time. Melenchon said that the reduction signifies that workers should be getting a larger share of the wealth, because he said the violence at the Paris march overshadows the concerns of workers.

On Monday, both the LFI and France's green EELV party revealed that they had struck a deal to form a joint front against Macron in the parliamentary elections.

READ MORE: Tear Gas in Paris, but fewer protesters and bigger demands.

According to Reuters, the deal between LFI and EELV is done, and the campaign coordinators for the LFI are Adrien Quatennens, one of the campaign coordinators.

Manuel Bompard, a spokesman for Melenchon's campaign, told France Inter on Monday that talks with other parties would continue in the next hours.

On Sunday, about 10,000 people showed up in the centre of the Greek capital Athens to protest the cost of living. In March, the inflation in Greece reached 8 percent, compared to the 7.5 percent in the European Union.

After a two-year pandemic lull, an outdoor mega-concert was held in Rome after rallies and protests in cities across the country. Peace was an underlying theme, with many calls for an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Italy's three main labor unions held their main rally in the hilltop town of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests.