Hundreds arrested in Paris May Day riots
More than 1,000 ‘Black Bloc’ protesters have clashed with police in the French capital
French riot police have used water cannons and tear gas on violent protesters during a May Day riot in Paris that has been described as the “worst violence since 1968”.
Hooded and masked protesters smashed shop windows and threw petrol bombs following a planned peaceful May Day march organised by labour unions.
More than 200 people were arrested and four people, including one police officer, were injured during the violence. Three people were found in possession of illegal weapons.
Paris police had earlier warned of possible clashes with “far-left anarchist groups, known as Black Blocs”, The Guardian says, following a call on social media to make Tuesday a “Revolutionary Day”.
Protesters reportedly smashed the windows of a McDonald’s restaurant before setting it on fire, and sprayed anti-fascist graffiti on a number of walls throughout the area.
The Times says that on one street, “anti-capitalists vandalised a Mercedes dealership and destroyed three of its cars while other makes of vehicle were left alone”.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is currently visiting Australia, condemned the protesters on Twitter.
“Everything will be done so that the perpetrators are identified and held responsible for their actions,” he said.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux criticised the protesters for covering their faces, saying: “When you have sincere convictions, you demonstrate with your face unmasked.”
Macron is currently “locked in a battle with the trade unions over his plans to liberalise labour regulations”, the ABC says.
French railway staff have begun three months of rolling strikes over the government’s plans to overhaul the state-run SNCF railway.
The violence came on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the 1968 Paris protests and general strikes that paralysed France for more than a month.