Thousands rallied on Saturday in France, Spain and Berlin to mark May Day in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic as police scuffled with protesters at Paris and fired tear gas.
A police source told AFP the far-left”black bloc” protesters had repeatedly tried to block the trade union-led march in the French capital, where 46 people were arrested.
About 5,000 police were deployed in Paris, a police source said.
The CGT union said nearly 300 May day protests were planned around the country. It later claimed a total federal turnout of 170,000, with 25,000 rallying from the French capital. The French interior ministry put the nationwide figure at 106,000 and the Paris turnout at 17,000.
The crowds held placards with different requirements, ranging from the conclusion of the nighttime curfew in place as part of coronavirus constraints, to a stop to unemployment reforms expected to come into force in July.
We have lots of reasons to come and rally — both the health and social scenarios and the general impoverishment of society,” explained Ivan Gineste, 50, who works in a high school in the southeastern city of Lyon.
Members of this yellow vest anti-elite motion, which rocked Emmanuel Macron’s presidency two years ago before mostly fizzling out, could also be spotted at protests up and down the nation.
“There are so many motives to get a revolt that are building up — the management of Covid, the so-called reforms which are going to take away people’s ability to live, job-seekers who will lose their gains,” said a pensioner who gave her name as Patricia.
“We absolutely need to express ourselves,” that the 66-year-old said.
Back in Berlin, police made several arrests and used tear gas after stones and bottles were thrown as some 5,000 people rallied after a call by abandoned and far-left groups.
Organisers said about 20,00 people assembled to march to the local traditionally radical leftist Kreuzberg district.
Local media reported the situation calmed down about 2000 GMT after the capital’s police realised they were prepared to deploy water cannon to put out burning wooden pallets to guarantee the flames did not reach parked cars.